A new report finds more than 100 Ohioans were killed in domestic violence incidents in the last year

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (Statehouse News Bureau) — The Ohio Domestic Violence Network said 112 people were killed in domestic violence incidents from summer 2022 to 2023, according to the advocacy organization’s eighth annual count. That is the same number of Ohioans as the year before.

Of the 112 who died between July 1, 2022, and June 30, 2023—the perimeters of the annual count—more than 20 were minors. More than half of the 112 people had contact with law enforcement or the legal system about abuse before they died. ODVN called it a “pattern of continuous, unceasing violence.”

The count itself takes “a bit of a Herculean effort,” said Lisa DeGeeter, ODVN’s legal counsel. Advocates comb through news stories and information from member organizations around the state to put together the report.

Paula Walters tells her survivor story during an ODVN Domestic Violence Awareness Month event on Oct. 11, 2023.
Paula Walters tells her survivor story during an ODVN Domestic Violence Awareness Month event on Oct. 11, 2023.

Count coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Men and women clad in a variety of purple hues took over the Ohio Statehouse atrium Wednesday morning. The annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month event was partly about advocates celebrating recent legislative wins—like a new law that reclassifies strangulation as a felony—and about providing a platform for survivors like Paula Walters to share their stories.

Walters told attendees of how she survived near-fatal strangulation at the hands of her abuser, a then-boyfriend, in 2006. A “nosy neighbor” saved her life, she said, but the incident left her with lasting injuries.

“The outcome of that horrific night was that I received a brain injury and a life sentence. What did my abuser get? Probation and a $500 fine.” Walters said.

The traumatic brain injury took doctors more than a decade to properly diagnose, she said.

More than 20% of the deaths stemming from this latest ODVN fatalities count were due to strangulation, brain trauma, or both. Although the total number of Ohioans killed by domestic violence didn’t change year-over-year, it’s a stark increase for those causes of death.

“I suppose the best thing we can say is that things didn’t increase,” DeGeeter said.

But guns were used in the vast majority of fatal instances of domestic violence across Ohio, according to the report.