COLUMBUS— While Ohio’s stay-at-home order works to reduce the strain on the state’s healthcare system, House Democrats today expressed concerns about the effect the prolonged lockdown is having on domestic violence incidents in Ohio. With the statewide stay-at-home order in effect until at least May 1, Democrats say now is the time to act to protect victims and families.
“For many, stay-at-home doesn’t necessarily mean safe-at-home,” said Minority Leader Emilia Strong Sykes (D-Akron). “The longer we’re self-isolating, the more dangerous it is for those in abusive situations. If we’re going to extend stay-at-home to flatten the curve—which we should—we also need to protect the safety and security of all Ohioans. We cannot take our eyes off one issue while addressing another, especially when it comes to domestic violence and commonsense gun safety.”
Columbus recorded seven domestic violence-related homicides in 2019, but have reported three such homicides in past three weeks alone. And in Cincinnati, a dedicated domestic violence hotline has seen a 30 percent increase in calls since the self-isolation period began.
“We cannot allow our efforts to save lives through social isolation to put others in danger,” said Assistant Minority Leader Kristin Boggs (D-Columbus), who is sponsoring legislation to modernize Ohio’s rape laws. “The longer we stay in quarantine, the more reports we’re going to hear about domestic violence. If we’re in this together, we need to take meaningful action to pass commonsense measures to ensure stay-at-home means safe-at-home.”
Democrats have introduced several bills to protect victims of domestic violence this General Assembly, including bills that would:
- Protect those most at risk (HB 3, Aisha’s Law);
- Provide contraceptives to sexual assault victims (HB 184);
- Eliminate the statute of limitations on rape and eliminate the spousal exception (HB 279);
- Provide age-appropriate sexual abuse education for Ohio children (HB 321);
- Revoke professional licenses for criminal misconduct (HB 290);
- Require those subject to civil protection order to surrender firearms (HB 335);
- Allow victims to terminate lease agreements to find safer housing after obtaining a protection order (HB 351);
- Allow victims of domestic violence to access unemployment benefits when that individual leaves work as the result of past or ongoing abuse (HB 508).
House Democrats’ call comes during National Public Health Week, a weeklong call to action on critical public health issues facing American families.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522.