Reps. Sykes, Kuhns Push For Modernization Of Ohio Domestic Violence Laws
Say existing loopholes leave domestic violence victims in danger

State Reps. Emilia Sykes (D–Akron) and Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati) today announced they are introducing legislation to modernize Ohio domestic violence laws. Their bill allows victims of domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner to obtain civil protective orders against their attacker.

The bill would close a loophole in existing state law that leaves thousands of Ohioans without recourse in the event of domestic violence. Ohio only defines domestic violence as occurring between spouses, family members, those cohabiting, or parents. People in ongoing, substantial, intimate and romantic relationships are not included.

“Abusers almost always become more violent as their victim tries to leave,” said Rep. Sykes. “Closing the existing loopholes are common-sense changes that will allow victims in any abusive relationship to access the recourse they need to end the cycle of violence. Working in an intimate partner violence clinic in Florida, I know the struggle facing survivors each day. This change will make a difference.”

Ohio and Georgia are the only two states that do not cover dating violence under their domestic violence laws. Kentucky, the last Ohio border state to expand protections, signed a domestic violence modernization bill into law this past spring.

“It is a disgrace that Ohio is one of only two states who have yet to make this change,” said Rep. Kuhns. “Some states, like Florida, have been doing this for over a decade. It’s time we send a bill with bipartisan support to the governor to ensure all domestic violence survivors are treated the same.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines abuse as a repetitive pattern of behaviors, including physical or sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation, used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Women aged 18—34 face the highest rates of intimate partner violence. In the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds.

Reps. Sykes and Kuhns were joined by Cincinnati City Councilmember Yvette Simpson, Barbara Perez and Theresa Singleton from the Cincinnati YWCA and Victoria Morgan, a domestic abuse survivor and founder and president of She’s Healed, a domestic violence advocacy organization.

“It is inexcusable that Ohio remains one of only two states that have failed to modernize protections for victims of domestic violence, and I applaud Reps. Kuhns and Sykes for their leadership on this important issue,” said Councilwoman Simpson. “We cannot allow the law to continue to fail vulnerable women and men everywhere by leaving them in danger. That’s why I am introducing a resolution this afternoon calling on the City of Cincinnati to support this bill.”

The bill will now be referred to a standing House committee for further consideration.

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