May 28, 2024

By Nadia Ramlagan

Advocacy groups say a $20 million statewide funding increase will help rebuild community domestic violence services after years of budget cuts. Since 2019, more than 40-percent of its member programs reported having to reduce or eliminate services to children, and more than a quarter turned away survivors seeking assistance with a protection order due to lack of available staff, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network reported.

After several attempts, Christa Hullaby left an abusive relationship in 2004, and had a restraining order against her ex-partner for 15 years, until his death. Access to resources can save lives, she said. 

“It’s never easy to leave,” she said. “It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It actually got worse when I left. That’s when the stalking started, that’s when the break-ins started, that’s when the attempted rape started.”

According to the HealthPath Foundation of Ohio, around 1 in 4 children in Ohio is exposed to domestic violence in their home. State data shows that last year, 81 Ohioans died from domestic violence, including 22 children. 

Mary O’Doherty, Ohio Domestic Violence Network Executive Director, reported Ohio was one of a handful of states that had no money budgeted for domestic violence survivor programs prior to 2020. She added $20 million will allow centers to work toward closing a severe and prolonged gap in services, but said meeting the demand will require even more money. 

“More than 5,600 survivors who were seeking shelter got turned away because there was no capacity to serve them,” she explained. “So that’s more than one in three that were turned away. So hopefully, we’re going to do something about that. “

Hullaby said access to mental health resources, housing, and transportation can help ensure survivors and their children are able to live independently and safely as they forge a new life. 

“The biggest thing people don’t realize is when you leave a situation, your life is in shambles,” she continued. “And you have to try to rebuild your life.”

The latest funding boosts Ohio’s per capita domestic violence services rate from 32 cents to 85 cents – closer to neighboring states like Indiana, which spends 92 cents per capita, and Kentucky, which spends two $2.54 per capita.

An Ohio News Connection Story.