Ohio Domestic Violence Deaths Rise as Programs Face Cuts

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New data highlights the need to empower programs that help prevent and respond to domestic violence. An annual report by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network shows that 109 Ohioans died from domestic violence in the year ended June 30, 2020 – a 35% increase from the previous year.

In the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths from domestic violence were 14% higher than in the same period in 2019. Jo Simonsen, advocacy director for family systems at ODVN, said it was a major source of funding for domestic violence. Violence programs, the Federal Crime Victims Fund, have been cut by a third nationwide.

"While the need is still there, and we are actually seeing some increase in severity in some of the cases we last heard about, the dollars have come down and that will matter to our program," Simonsen said. "We still encourage victims or survivors to turn to us."

Government funding for domestic violence programs in Ohio is $ 1 million annually, compared to $ 5 million in Indiana, $ 6.7 million in Kentucky, and nearly $ 16 million in Pennsylvania. According to Simonsen, ODVN is calling for $ 5 million in general fund assistance to provide prevention services, victim advocacy assistance, and permanent housing assistance.

The domestic violence deaths in the report include four children and a police officer responding to a phone call. At least 70% of the deaths were caused by a gun, and 40% were involved in a suicide case, Simonsen added.

"That's an important number to think about. You know what mental health means in this case, when people are made to make a tragic decision to harm their partner, ex-partner, or children, and then do that To take life? " She said. "So what can be done to prevent such cases?"

She said the data is extremely useful in helping domestic violence organizations and law enforcement agencies evaluate interventions such as protection orders and identify ways to prevent deaths from intimate partner violence.

"Ways to mitigate risk or build protective factors, strengthen resilience in children exposed to domestic violence; address overmanliness and dangerous social norms that support domestic violence," she said.

More than 200 people are expected to attend the ODVN's annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month event today, virtually for the first time.

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