COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Division of Police said 17% of homicides in the city so far in 2023 are related to domestic violence.
A rise in domestic violence-related fatalities is a startling trend the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) is also seeing statewide. That rise really started three years ago, according to the ODVN — and that date tracks locally, too.
For Columbus police, partnerships with different support groups will be key to bringing down these numbers, CPD Commander Mark Denner said.
Since the start of the year, Columbus police have investigated eight domestic violence-related homicides.
“You look at that and try to figure out what is occurring, and what can we do as a division to maybe have an impact on those numbers?” Denner said.
One of those cases came on Feb. 22 — where a husband shot and killed his wife, then died by suicide inside a home on Parsons Avenue.
Even just one of these cases can be concerning, Denner said. He said he knows the community has questions.
“We are always evaluating, and we are always strategizing and trying to find ways, and I think one of the biggest things is through early intervention and through partnerships with the city attorney’s office, through the community groups,” Denner said.
So far this year, there have been a total of 97 felony domestic violence cases filed in Columbus, according to Denner. In 2022, a total of 305 were filed, and in 2021, there were 293.
Maria York, policy director for the ODVN, said that not only domestic violence-related fatalities have been on the rise statewide — so have the number of victims seeking shelter.
“Our shelter services are having trouble keeping up with the demand. Last year, our shelters were turning away one in five people from shelter just because we did not have the capacity or the resources to help them,” York said. “This year, in January, we did a new study, and it is one in three people who are being turned away.”
This is mostly due to funding, she said. The ODVN is grateful state government leaders have allocated millions of dollars to their organization this year to work to combat the issue, she said.
The ODVN is also seeing more severity in the cases, more victims being abused with a weapon, and more victims being abused physically, York said.
“It’s heartbreaking, because while our programs and our advocates are doing so much to help domestic violence survivors, the issue is still there,” she said.
Last year, there were 112 domestic violence-related fatalities statewide.
The ODVN has shelters and community-based programs throughout the state. Information about those is available on their website. If the shelters are full, the ODVN also has a hotline reachable at 1-800-934-9840 — where an advocate will help create a safety plan and discuss other options.