Every year, the Cocoon, which provides emergency shelter and services to domestic violence survivors in Wood County, gets more calls for help.
We served 863 survivors and their children in 2022.
Survivors report the violence is escalating. That brings a longer recovery period – the physical and emotional injuries are more intense; they’ve lost more time from work; their abusers may have taken or destroyed their homes and their cars; they need a new place to live.
We need citizens and state legislators to support a recommendation from Gov. Mike DeWine and Attorney General Dave Yost to add $20 million in funding for domestic violence services in the budget for 2024-25.
Domestic violence services have been cut by 60% across Ohio since 2019.
The data tells the story of suffering. In 2022, we had 124 requests for shelter that we couldn’t meet because we were at capacity.
In the fiscal year ending in June 2022, Ohio saw the greatest number of children killed in domestic violence ever in a year – with 22 children losing their lives; six were babies. Ohio reported 81 victims killed in domestic violence cases, along with 31 perpetrators.
For years, the average length of stay at the Cocoon’s shelter was 57 days. In 2022, that jumped to 87 days – a sign that survivors are having a hard time finding safety and stability.
In 2021, we served a record number of children at our shelter. Six months ago, we built a sensory space – with soft toys, toys for fidgety hands, weighted blankets — for children to calm anxiety, frustration and anger.
The cuts in federal Victims of Crime Act funds have been significant. To try to keep from reducing services through our 24-hour crisis hotline, we sought out new community partnerships and funding sources. We’ve been relying on American Rescue Plan funding, which bought some time but will end.
We have three community-based advocates who provide case management – helping survivors get affordable housing, navigate the court system and access community services.
Ohio spends 32 cents per capita on domestic violence services, compared with 92 cents for Indiana, $1.41 for West Virginia, $1.56 for Pennsylvania and $2.54 for Kentucky.
The additional proposed funding would bring Ohio’s rate up to 85 cents per capita.
For families and children, it’s the right thing to do. It can save lives.
(Mull is executive director of the Cocoon.)