COLUMBUS, Ohio — An annual report highlights the importance of funding programs that keep domestic violence survivors safe.
A one-day census by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found in Ohio, more than 2,600 survivors of domestic violence, including children, sought refuge or assistance with shelter, housing, transportation or legal counsel.
Another 263 requests for help went unmet due to a lack of resources.
At the Journey Center for Safety and Healing in Cuyahoga County, Sarah Froimson, director of shelter services, says in 2019, her shelter was forced to turn away 350 people.
"That's men, women, gender nonconforming individuals, children who were in imminent danger because of domestic violence," she relates. "And when somebody is fleeing domestic violence, it's the most dangerous time for them."
The count was taken on Sept. 12, 2019. That day in Ohio, 1,500 adults and children found refuge in emergency shelters and other housing, and more than 1,100 received counseling, legal advocacy and other non-residential services.
Froimson calls it "devastating" to be unable to help a victim who's gathered the courage to flee a violent relationship and is in desperate need of safety.
"Unfortunately, survivors and victims are forced to make this impossible choice — between repeated escalating violence, escalating in severity, and homelessness," she points out. "That's something that we should not take lightly."
And without adequate funding, Froimson says programs are often forced to reduce services or close their doors. She adds that domestic violence is a community problem.
"Our families can be impacted," she stresses. "Our sisters, our brothers, our children, everyone can be impacted.
"So not only is this an issue in social services, in domestic violence, this is an issue we need to take seriously as citizens."
The report calls for increased federal support so advocates can continue to help survivors in crisis, and those rebuilding their lives.
Froimson says that includes Congress reauthorizing and funding the Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act.