One woman’s fight for survival has changed Oklahoma law — twice.
BY KEVAN GOFF-PARKER
Lynne Mullins said she made a “bad mistake” when she got married. Her husband abused her and she soon feared for her own and her children’s lives.
Yet, despite a divorce and court protective orders, there seemed to be no end to her nightmare.
“After seeking my first protective order in 2001, I endured about a year of continual harassment, the slaughter of my dogs — gutted from stem-to-stern. He made my life a living hell,” said Mullins, who lives in rural Wagoner County.
“I was stalked and watched. I was traumatized on a daily basis for a year,” she said. “He used to drive by my house every night and no one could catch him.”
With the help of alert neighbors, her son and a Broken Arrow police detective, Mullins’ ex was found guilty of felony stalking and served four years in prison. It eventually came to light that he had tried to hire someone to murder her.
But Mullins discovered that the statute of limitations had expired on the murder-for-hire plot. She reached out to Rep. Wade Rousselot, D-Okay. Subsequently, the pair worked together and in 2006 passed a law extending the statute of limitations on that conspiracy crime.
above Wade Rousselot, Lynne Mullins and Kristin Davis
‘Something very worthwhile’ Mullins’ ordeal wasn’t over. Like many abuse victims, she found her self on a relentless merry-go-round of having to go before a judge and endure the ponderous process of repeatedly filing for emergency protective orders.
By 2011, in her late 50s, she said she had had enough and reached out again to Rousselot to see if the state’s protective-order laws could be extended.
Rousselot and Mullins, along with many nonprofits, women’s advocacy groups and survivors of domestic violence, are now celebrating House Bill 2396, which went into effect Nov. 1. Passed on the final day of the last legislative session, it extends protective orders from three years to five, and allows for some lifetime-protective orders.
“I feel like I’ve done something very worthwhile,” Rousselot said. “I run into women who have been abused in the past and they are very thankful for what we’ve done and they know we’re on their side.”
Mullins said the measure can help address the problem of hardcore, violent offenders.
“The awareness about domestic abuse is getting better and we are educating law enforcement and the community,” she said. “The bill is not retroactive, meaning [current] emergency protective order seekers will need to refile their protective order. I’m still concerned about my abuser every time I turn around, so I’m requesting a continuous order so I can continue my life.”
Horrendous statistics Oklahoma Women’s Coalition Executive Director Kristin Davis said her organization is grateful to Rousselot and Sen. Kim David, R-Porter, who was also instrumental in the bill’s passage.
One woman can make a difference.
“The Oklahoma Women’s Coalition and about 50 nonprofit women and girls’ service organizations all really took this bill seriously,” Davis said. “It was one of our main objectives and it was a very nail-biting experience, but we’re so thrilled it passed. It is a landmark piece of legislation for us. It not only extends protective orders, it provides for a lifetime protective order, which is huge.”
The new law should help abuse victims statewide, Davis said.
“Lynne Mullins is an example of how one woman speaking out can make a difference and get a law created,” she said.
Davis added that Oklahoma could use more heroes when it comes to championing and protecting women.
“Statistically, Oklahoma is horrendous,” she said. “We’re ranked the second-worst state for women. According to the Violence Policy Center, our state is 17th in the nation for the number of women killed by men. We are also ranked low in many other factors, including health care for women and access to education. ... The passing of this law is phenomenal and pushes us ahead.
Still, we have a lot of challenges ahead.”