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Ohio domestic violence rates surge: Step Forward's commitment to community support

Cleveland – According to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, 2022 and 2023 were some of the worst years for domestic violence rates statewide.

For eight years, the organization has been compiling media reports of intimate-partner relationship fatalities, including counts of targeted victims, perpetrators, and other people who were present when the fatalities occurred. ODVN’s data shows a significant increase from the data collected in 2018 (81 fatalities in 60 cases) to the data collected in 2023 (112 fatalities in 82 cases).

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In its report, released in October 2023, ODVN confirmed that 40-percent of the deceased victims were people of color.

“These figures demand our attention and a collective effort to address the root causes and provide support to those affected,” Herbert Williams, Step Forward’s Community Services Coordinator, said.

ODVN also confirmed that children were present during about 30-percent of domestic violence fatalities statewide. About 22 young people were killed in domestic violence incidents throughout the year, including 17 who were killed by their own parents or stepparents.

Step Forward is located at 1801 Superior Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio

In the face of these disheartening statistics, Step Forward remains committed to its mission of supporting individuals and families in Cuyahoga County. The agency’s multifaceted approach encompasses a range of services and programs designed to uplift the community, including several Personal Development programs such as the agency’s parenting classes and domestic violence program.

Step Forward’s parenting program teaches participants about child development and how to build healthy relationships. It utilizes real-world scenarios and uses activities to teach parents a different way to understand and manage conflicts.

Step Forward’s Domestic Violence program provides resources to help everyone involved, including walking through the difficult topic and providing strategies to deal with anger in a non-violent way.

“The philosophy of Step Forward’s Domestic Violence Program is to treat all participants with respect, help them achieve self-determined goals, and create an environment that supports independence,” Williams explained.

In the six to nine-month program, participants acknowledge the different types of abusive behavior and how such behavior can affect other people. It also aims to eliminate victim-blaming statements and identify thoughts, feelings and behaviors to avoid. Participants are often referred to Step Forward through the Cuyahoga County Division of Child Protective Services, Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, Probation Department, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, Municipal Court, or men voluntarily seek the opportunity to experience alternatives to abuse and controlling behaviors in a therapeutic group environment.

A woman looks into the camera

“The data from past years may indicate a need for intersectional approaches that address not only the immediate consequences of domestic violence, but also the underlying social and economic factors that may exacerbate the problem for certain communities,” Williams acknowledged.

In confronting the reality of the escalating domestic violence rates across Ohio, the call to action has become more urgent than ever. The statistics reveal not only the prevalence of abuse but also the tragic toll it has taken on communities across the Buckeye State. The tragic numbers serve as a poignant reminder of the imperative to break the cycle of violence. As we navigate these turbulent waters, we stand together, united in our determination to create a safer, brighter, and more compassionate future for all.

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