Report: domestic violence up during pandemic, funding for victims down

Report: domestic violence up during pandemic, funding for victims down
Report: domestic violence up during pandemic, funding for victims down (Source: ODVN)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - A new report by the Ohio Domestic Violence Network (ODVN) says domestic violence is up as funding for programs that help victims of domestic violence is down.

ODVN’s annual report says 109 people in Ohio died as a result of domestic violence for the reporting year ending June 30.

The domestic violence deaths in the report include four children and one police officer responding to a call, ODVN Family Systems Advocacy Director Jo Simonsen said.

The report also shows domestic-violence fatalities during the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic were 14% higher than during the same period in 2019.

This comes as Ohio’s allocation for federal Victim of Crime Act (VOCA) grants was cut by more than $20 million between the fiscal years 2020 and 2021.

“While the need is still there and we’re actually seeing sort of increases in severity in some of the cases we’ve heard about most recently, the dollars have dropped off, and that’s going to be significant for our program,” Simonsen said. “We’re still encouraging victims or survivors to reach out to us.”

Earlier this year, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost joined a coalition of state and territorial attorneys general representing all 50 states, Washington D.C. and five U.S. territories.

The coalition is urging Congress to adjust the VOCA funding formula to ensure funding for victims of domestic violence remains steady.

“Immediate solutions are required to ensure the long-term viability of [the] fund,” Yost said.

Federal VOCA funding comes from fines for federal offenses.

Ohio’s state funding for domestic violence programs is $1 million annually, compared to $5 million in Indiana and $16 million in Pennsylvania.

Simonsen said ODVN is advocating for an increase to $5 million in funding every year.

If you need help with a domestic violence situation, go to odvn.org/find-help.

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