Cleveland Family Law Attorneys

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a month-long observance intended to draw attention to the problem of domestic violence in the United States and raise awareness concerning the individuals and resources combating abuse against women and children.

Cleveland Domestic Violence Statistics

According to the Ohio Attorney General, in 2012 (the most recent year for which statistics are available) there were a total of 2,668 domestic violence incidents, including nearly 1,000 incidents to which the Cleveland Police Department responded. Nationally, there are over 900,000 domestic violence incidents every year committed against nearly 3 million women. Although our society and culture tend to view women as the victims of domestic violence, in 2010 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 40% of victims of severe physical abuse were men.

Ohio Domestic Violence Laws

In Ohio, an individual can be found guilty of domestic violence if that person:

  • Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member;
  • Recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member; or
  • By threat of force, knowingly causes a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.

It does not matter if the aggressor makes actual physical contact with the victim; even placing the victim in fear that he or she will be immediately struck or abused can result in a conviction for domestic violence.

The key to a domestic violence conviction involves showing that the victim was a “family or household member” to the aggressor. This means that the victim must be:

  • Someone who resided or is residing with the offender, including a spouse, former spouse, someone living with the offender as a spouse, a parent, a foster parent, a child, etc.; or
  • The natural parent of a child of whom the offender is the other natural or putative parent.

Unlike some states, Ohio’s domestic violence statute does not explicitly protect individuals in a dating relationship. But if those individuals are living together or have a child in common, then the victim would be considered a “family or household member” under the domestic violence statute and the offender could be prosecuted for domestic violence.

Depending on the number of prior convictions for domestic violence as well as whether any actual physical contact occurred, domestic violence can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. If there are previous convictions, or if the victim was pregnant at the time the violence domestic violence occurred, then the penalties will be more severe.

Help for Ohio Domestic Violence Victims

Victims of domestic violence need to know that there are laws in place to protect them from an abusive situation. In addition to criminal laws and penalties, there are protective orders that can order the offender to stay away from you and not to harass you or your children. In some cases, these protective orders can also require the offender to move out of the house until the court issues further orders. If you or a loved one is suffering from domestic violence, contact us at (440) 336-8687. We can help you protect yourself from the abuse of an intimate partner.