In Ohio law, domestic violence can be charged whenever there is physical harm, or the attempt to cause physical harm, to a family or household member. A family member is anyone you are related to as a blood relative or their spouse, and anyone who is a blood relative or spouse of anyone living in your household, or who has ever lived in your household. A household member is anyone who is or has resides with you, or has ever resided with you.
In general, police officers are directed to make arrests for claims of domestic violence unless special circumstances exist. This is to protect the victims of domestic abuse.
To clarify a matter of misconception, it should be stated that appropriate discipline of a child is not domestic violence. However, excessive or unusual punishment may be considered abuse and would be handled as a very serious matter.
Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, all cultures, all income groups, all ages, and all religions. They can be male or female, and child or adult. They share feelings of helplessness, isolation, guilt, fear, and shame.
Are You Abused?
Does the person you love…
- Track all of your time?
- Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful?
- Discourage your relationships with family and friends?
- Prevent you from working or attending school?
- Criticize you for little things?
- Anger easily when drinking or using drugs?
- Control all finances and force you to account in detail for what you spend?
- Humiliate you in front of others?
- Destroy personal property or sentimental items?
- Hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite you or the children?
- Use or threaten to use a weapon against you?
- Threaten to hurt you or the children?
- Force you to have sex against your will?
If you can say yes to any of these, it’s time to get help.
Do Not Ignore The Problem
- Talk to someone. Part of the abuser’s power comes from secrecy. Victims are often ashamed to let anyone know about intimate family problems or have been threatened not to discuss these problems.
- Plan ahead and know what you will do if attacked again. If you leave, decide on a place to go; set aside some money. Put important papers together — marriage licenses, birth certificates, check books. Put them in a place you can get to quickly.
- Learn to think independently. Try to plan for the future and set goals for yourself.
If You Are Hurt, What Do You Do?
There are no easy answers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.
- Call the police. They have access to local sources of shelter or counseling if needed. In addition they are the only ones who can bring domestic violence charges to stop the cycle of violence. When domestic violence charges are made, there are protection orders issued to prevent further abuse.
- Leave or have someone come stay with you. If you believe that you or your children are in danger or that the violence will escalate leave immediately.
- Get medical attention from your doctor or hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to photograph your injuries.
Have You Hurt Someone in Your Family or Household?
- Accept the fact that your violent behavior will destroy your family. Be aware that you break the law when you physically hurt someone.
- Take responsibility for your actions and get help.
- Call a mental health center or emergency help line and ask about counseling and support groups that may be able to help you.
The High Cost of Domestic Violence
- Men and women who follow examples set by their parents and use violence to solve conflicts are teaching the same destructive behavior to their children. They just widen the circle of abuse.
- Jobs can be lost or careers derailed because of injuries, arrests, or harassment.
- Violence typically escalates if no intervention takes place. Deaths do result from domestic violence situations.
The cycle of domestic violence can be broken with intervention and honest effort.