Ohio Representatives Push Bill To Tackle Domestic Violence
A Guest Column by Representatives Anne Gonzales and Denise Driehaus
September 24, 2014
 
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Domestic violence has recently become a major topic of conversation in this country and one that is dominating headlines and our nightly news. Because of high profile incidents in the National Football League, everyone is now keenly focused on the issue and asking what can be done.


This is a problem that does not discriminate along socioeconomic, racial or generational lines. There are calls for changes in our culture and for large organizations to look at how they handle these situations internally.


These calls have not gone unheeded in the Ohio General Assembly.  Before the issue was on the nation’s radar, we began the fight to change Ohio law to protect the victims of these horrendous crimes by giving them every opportunity to leave their attackers. In October of 2013, we introduced House Bill 297, which is designed to provide avenues for these men and women to finally leave abusive relationships, while protecting their housing, livelihoods and families.


There are a variety of reasons as to why victims stay with their abusers but there are two key areas where we can make significant changes in state law.  This legislation allows victims to take time off work to seek a protection order in court or go to a medical appointment without fear of losing their job.


This bill also allows victims to change their locks in places where they reside, even if they rent.  If this does not provide for adequate protection against the abuser, the victim is allowed to break their lease and move to a different and safer location.


The most dangerous time for any victim of domestic violence is when they decide to finally act. The barriers that these victims face coupled with the physical threat from their abuser lead to the victims staying in situations that endanger themselves and their children longer than they should.  By removing as many obstacles as we can for these victims, we hope to help them return to a “normal” life and a safe environment.


When enacted, Ohio will join at least 25 other states that offer similar protections to the men and women facing this kind of abuse.


This is an issue that affects all Ohioans.  One in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. The negative effects of such widespread violence are a drag on our society.  Domestic violence impacts the victim’s ability to keep their job, keep their home and provide for their family. When domestic violence persists, lives are ruined and families are shattered. 


Domestic violence is not a partisan issue, and we are pleased to have worked together across party lines to try to provide reasonable accommodations for victims of domestic violence in the workplace and in housing.  We hope to see the passage of House Bill 297. Now is the time to protect victims of domestic violence and save lives.

 
 
 
  
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Representative Gonzales Sworn In As State Representative Of The 19th House District

 
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State Representative Anne Gonzales (R-Westerville) today was sworn in as a member of the Ohio House of Representatives for the 132nd General Assembly. She represents the 19th Ohio House District, which includes the cities of Westerville, Gahanna and New Albany; Sharon, Blendon, Plain and Mifflin Townships; the Village of Minerva Park and portions of Columbus. This will be her fourth full term in the Ohio House.