COLUMBUS- State Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and House Democrats today sent a letter to Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost about the need to increase resources to domestic violence shelters during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Domestic violence shelters have reported an increase in calls since the initial outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some shelters have reported increases of up to 30 percent, while other shelters have started to use hotels for increased capacity during the outbreak.
“Even in a pandemic, victims of domestic violence are not safe at home. Home for victims is not synonymous with shelter. As we consider the dangers of the COVID-19 virus, we must remember that while the stay-at-home order is meant to save lives, it may put victims of domestic violence at greater risk. We must give them the tools to find safe shelter- free of abuse and absent of disease, with workers who are equipped with protections for themselves and for victims. That is why I’m asking the Governor, his cabinet and the Attorney General to accommodate the following three requests made to me by Ohio’s Domestic Violence Network,” said Boyd.
The letter outlines three specific policy recommendations that Boyd and House Democrats urge the DeWine administration to adopt to better protect survivors of domestic violence and domestic violence shelter workers.
1. Declare domestic violence shelter workers essential workers: This would allow workers to be eligible to receive child care under the new Temporary Pandemic Child Care License requirements, as well as other benefits associated with being a designated essential worker. With the number of clients served on the rise, shelters need to ensure that they are fully staffed.
2. Provide shelters with personal protective equipment (PPE): Domestic violence shelter workers are at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 because of their direct interaction with victims and possibly with other partners, such as law enforcement and medical professionals.
3. Include resources and information about the State’s domestic violence programs on the COVID-19 website: Gov. DeWine has highlighted national domestic violence resources in previous press conferences; however, it is important to connect survivors with local resources during this national pandemic.
Mary O’Doherty, Executive Director at the Ohio Domestic Violence Center, explained the tough decision domestic violence survivors currently face in whether to stay at home or move to a shelter amidst the pandemic.
“The pandemic has put survivors who are experiencing violence at home in a terrible place. They must choose between staying home and continuing to live in fear OR moving to a shelter where they may put their health and the health of their children at risk. No one should have to face such a terrible choice. Ohio’s 75 domestic violence programs are open for business.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call 614-781-9651 or 1-800-934-9840 to be connected to a shelter in your community.
Editor’s Note: A copy of the letter to Gov. DeWine and Attorney General Yost is attached above.