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Study: Domestic violence kills 100 in Ohio last year

by MARC KOVAC | RPC CAPITAL BUREAU CHIEF Published: October 5, 2016 12:31 PM

COLUMBUS -- More than 100 people died as a result of domestic violence in Ohio over the past year, according to a study released by an advocacy group Tuesday.

A total of 90 adults and 11 children were included in a snapshot of incidents reviewed by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network.

"We are absolutely certain there are cases we did not catch," Jo Simonsen, a director at the group, told an audience at the Statehouse. She added later, "It's devastating. It's numbing. Report after report, the viciousness, the vindictiveness and and the cruelty that it takes to perform some of these acts."

Simonsen spoke during a program as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a national designation aimed at drawing attention to domestic violence and helping victims, most often women, to seek out assistance from agencies that provide protection and legal and other resources.

Advocates also urged action on legislation at the Statehouse to further protect and assist domestic violence victims.

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"How can we harness this strength and the courage of the victims and of the survivors and of the first responders and of our advocates so that we can demand that there are more interventions, so that children that are witnessing this are better protected, that victims are served," Simonsen said. "We need courts to be holding batterers accountable well before it reaches this extreme."

For the study, the Network, with assistance from 70-plus local domestic violence programs, sought news accounts of incidents that occurred between July 1, 2015, and June 30 of this year. Simonsen said 69 of those cases were included in the final count.

Among the results:

A total of 101 people died in the incidents, including victims, perpetrators and other people who happened to be at the scene at the time.

Forty-three of the cases involved a single fatality, while 26 involved multiple deaths involving up to four people.

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Nearly three-fourths of the fatalities involved firearms; 80 people were shot, not including perpetrators who were shot by officers.

Two officers who were responding to incidents were killed by perpetrators, and two others were shot but survived. Eights suspected attackers were killed by officers.

In one-fourth of the incidents, children were at the scenes.

And there were warning signs in advance.

"Many of the cases had previous homicidal overtures in the violence by the perpetrator," Simonsen said. "There were previous strangulations, house fires, stabbings, running victims off the road and weapons pointed to their head, among others."

Tuesday's event included the presentation of awards to two women for their work to counter domestic violence.

One recipient was Pamela Hayman-Weaner, an attorney from Defiance who focuses on domestic violence issues through her position at Legal Services of Northwest Ohio. She helped establish the Defiance County Domestic Violence Task Force and has spearheaded other coordinated community response efforts.

In accepting the award, Hayman-Weaner described how abuse she suffered in high school and college helped propel her to advocate for other domestic violence victims.

"I didn't have a voice; I wouldn't tell anybody because it wasn't safe to tell anybody," she said. " You could only dream of what it would be like to have a community-coordinated response or have a network of advocates, because it didn't work like that The legal system wasn't there for them, the resources weren't there for them."

She added, "I was so fortunate, since coming to Ohio, to be able to work for [Legal Aid of Northwestern Ohio], an agency that's really dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, in giving me the privilege of being able to work and providing them those services that I couldn't get and who the victims I worked with through the shelter couldn't get We have a lot of work to do, we're not there yet, but, boy, with the people we have in this room and the people we have in this state, the people we have around the country, fighting for eradicating of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, stalking, we can do it together."

Kovac is the Dix Capital Bureau chief. Email him at mkovac@dixcom.com or on Twitter at OhioCapitalBlog.


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