PINE BLUFF — Laura Webb’s now-ex-husband ran over her with his truck on April 7, 2012, after a heated argument about their divorce.
It happened at Mount Magazine.
“When I saw the truck coming toward me, I remember thinking, ‘He is going try to kill me,’” Webb said. “I saw the brake lights come on. I saw the tail lights come on, and then I realized he was going to back up over me.”
She remembered that a nearby cabin was occupied, then gained the strength to crawl there.
“I don’t remember the crawl," Webb said. "I got to the cabin and I was below the window, so I tapped on the window. That didn’t work. They couldn’t hear me, but I was able to pull myself up with one arm and they saw the top of my head. The look on the woman’s face told me that things were bad, then I fell back to the concrete in front of the door and they came and saved me.”
Today, Webb, who was the featured speaker at Thursday’s National Crime Victims’ Rights program at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, is an educator, crime victims’ activist and domestic violence survivor.
“Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims” was the program’s theme. It was sponsored by UAPB’s Criminal Justice Program in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Every April, the Office for Victims of Crime leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of NCVRW. This year's theme emphasizes the importance of inclusion in victim services and addresses how the crime victims’ field can better ensure that every crime victim has access to services and support — and how professionals, organizations and communities can work in tandem to reach all victims.
S. Kyle Hunter, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney, helped commemorate NCVR Week on Wednesday by speaking with the Criminal Justice Judicial Process class, instructed by Shurunda Thrower, Coordinator of the Criminal Justice Program. He explained the role and responsibilities of prosecutors.
As she continued her story of surviving domestic violence, Webb said that the neighbors of the cabin she fled to took care of her, asking all pertinent questions to report to the police as they called for help. She was taken to a hospital, where she received proper care of a damaged lung and ribs, and she is now traveling across the state advocating for domestic violence.
With help from the mother of another victim, Webb began advocating for new state laws to help victims of domestic violence.
“Laura’s Law” requires Arkansas police officers responding to domestic violence incidents to ask victims a set of questions to evaluate their risk of being killed by abuse, such as whether the offender has ever used a weapon against the victim or controls most of the victim’s daily activities.
Along with Laura’s Law, police will also present victims with a “Laura’s Card,” a document listing their rights and contact information for local prosecutors and shelters.
The purpose of the card is to provide crime victims their rights afforded to them by Arkansas’ Victim’s Bill of Rights outlined in Arkansas Victim Rights Act of 1997 and Laura’s Card Act 873, to provide state-wide consistency of information concerning victim’s rights provided to victims of crime, and to provide victim rights and information in a clear and concise manner in order to empower victims to make decisions about their safety.
According to the Criminal Justice Institute, law enforcement agencies responding to crime incidents are now required to inform victims in writing of their victim’s rights. Officers must inform victims of the availability of services: medical, housing, counseling, financial, social, legal, and emergency services. In addition, officers must inform victims about how to obtain orders of protection, how to access public records related to the case, and about the Arkansas Crime Victims Reparations Board (including the address and phone number).
Webb inspired the bill and the name “Laura’s Card,” along with two other women affected by domestic violence, Laura Aceves, a Eureka Springs woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend in 2012, and her mother, Laura Ponce, who has since become an advocate for domestic violence victims.
Webb explained that she couldn’t have become who she is today without the help of Jefferson County Sheriff's Office Maj. Lafayette Woods Jr., who is an advocate for victims of domestic violence.
Woods worked with Webb in the creation of Laura’s Law and Laura’s Card.
“I was inspired to get involved from hearing stories from Mrs. Webb and people like her that I talk to every day being a member of law enforcement,” Woods said. “I know people personally that have been affected by domestic violence, and that’s the reason I advocate for domestic violence.”
The program was ended with Webb giving all attendees a Laura’s Card.