Rep. Janine Boyd (D-Cleveland Heights) and House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron) today urged the swift passage of House Bill (HB) 3, better known as Aisha’s Law, in the wake of the highly publicized Gabby Petito case. Aisha’s Law would improve how law enforcement agencies respond to domestic violence cases and provides added protections for those in high-risk situations.
“The Gabby Petito case exemplifies the need for the long overdue passage of Aisha’s law, which would provide funding for greater police training around identifying the signs of high-risk and lethal domestic violence. Many survivors of domestic violence will resonate with at least some of the insights we have come to see and learn over the past weeks. In the video clip released by the Moab Police Department, there are a few “red flags” that survivors of abuse could easily recognize- calling the partner crazy, deflecting the situation, saying the abuse was out of love, and even presenting a cover-up story to the police. The newly released autopsy report ruled Petito’s death a homicide by strangulation. We know what the act of strangulation means. According to research by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell, author of the Danger Assessment, 43% of homicide victims had experienced non-fatal strangulation previously. While Aisha Fraser’s life was not snuffed out by the act strangulation, a victim of non-fatal strangulation has a 700% higher risk of being killed by their abuser. It is shameful that Ohio remains the only State left without felony strangulation law,” said Rep. Boyd.
“To follow the Petito family’s courageous example, even as they grieve, I must bring attention to the fact that persons of color make up roughly 40 percent of all missing people annually. For comparison, 13.4 percent of the national population is Black, while 60.1 percent is White, 18.5 percent is Hispanic/Latino and 2.4 percent is Native American, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A 2018 study concluded that the greater media attention paid to missing White girls and women may aid search efforts; whereas resources available for search efforts involving Black girls and women are more limited; and that law enforcement may put more effort into cases involving missing White boys and men. The situation that is unfolding is tragic, no doubt, but it also underscores a pervasive problem of resource allocation and who we prioritize as worthy of saving.
“When we make the responsible decision to equip members of law enforcement with the tools and skills to ask the right questions and help them identify the signs of domestic violence, officers will be more likely to make informed decisions and intervene before a high-risk situation ends in tragedy.”
HB 3 was initially unveiled as bipartisan priority legislation in the 133rd General Assembly, and was passed by the Ohio House on May 20, 2020. It has currently received two hearings in the House Criminal Justice Committee.
“Without intervention, intimate partner violence can quickly turn deadly. While those killed by these heinous acts will never see justice in their lifetimes, it is within our power as lawmakers to protect the safety and security of all Ohioans. It is important that we pass Aisha’s Law so that deadly situations similar to Gabby’s and Aisha’s never happen in the first place,” said House Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron).
If you are a survivor of domestic violence looking for resources and referrals in Ohio, you can visit ODVN.org or call 614-781-9651.
If you are in an emergency, call the 24/7 National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.