COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A 1-year-old girl dead after a domestic violence incident in Columbus.
Mary O’Doherty, executive director of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN), said it’s a heartbreaking situation.
“Unfortunately, if you’re in our line of work, you’re all too aware that it happens a lot more often than people would like to believe,” she said.
O’Doherty wants people to know there are 57 shelters statewide and hotlines for immediate help.
ODVN’s latest yearly report said in fiscal year 2020, 109 people died in cases of domestic violence, a 35 percent increase over 2019.
“We also have non-residential programs, culturally specific programs, and those programs exist to be a resource for survivors,” O’Doherty said. “A place for them to go, to seek refuge, or if they’re not ready to go, just to get information and support.”
Delaware County Sheriff Russ Martin helped spearhead a shelter in that county.
“Domestic violence is still one of the most prominent calls that we go on in law enforcement,” Martin said. “It’s intimate, it’s emotional, they’re volatile, and when tragedy strikes in that home setting, it’s heartbreaking.”
As law enforcement, he said his goal is to help break the cycle of violence.
Martin added this requires patience as victims aren’t always read to leave their situations.
“You’re worried about, ‘How do I keep my job, what do I do for transportation,’” Martin said. “If you’ve got somebody controlling you, and I will tell you domestic violence shelters come equipped with resources to help you work through that.”
O’Doherty said if you know someone who’s struggling, offer them help.
“The most important thing you can do is listen and believe the person and then tell them that you believe them and tell them you’re there to help them and really to support whatever decision they make,” she said.
Both O’Doherty and Martin said shelters often rely on community support to keep these resources.
The state’s budget has increased funding for ODVN by $5 million this fiscal year and $2.5 million for the following year.
For more information on the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, click here.
For more information about the National Domestic Violence hotline, click here.