By Becca Costello
Police say Cincinnati has had nine domestic violence homicides so far this year – more than the last two years combined. That includes 31-year-old Michelle McDonald and her unborn child, who died after being shot in West Price Hill last week.
Advocates say the sharp increase in domestic violence cases this year is devastating but not surprising.
Kristin Shrimplin is president and CEO of the nonprofit Women Helping Women. She says gender-based violence has long been a public health crisis.
“Structurally, we have to look at our systems and ask ourselves, are we doing the best job we can to be survivor-centric in all of our systems?” she said. “Where is there room for growth, opportunity improvement, enhancement, collaboration?”
Women Helping Women runs the DVERT program, which sends an advocate to the scene of domestic violence calls to offer resources and support. Victims are able to make a safety plan to avoid future violence. DVERT recently expanded outside of Cincinnati and works with 15 law enforcement jurisdictions across Hamilton County, including Colerain Township, Lincoln Heights, Norwood and Cheviot.
Shrimplin says community change starts personally, with people supporting victims in their lives.
“The most critical thing in that moment is to listen and say, ‘I believe you,’ ” she said. “Survivors need to hear that, because they’ve been gaslit with (the idea) no one’s going to believe them and no one’s going to help them.”
Shrimplin says domestic violence homicides are preventable.
“Domestic violence homicide typically does not happen out of the blue,” she said. “We see many, many signs leading up to that.”
A 24-hour hotline for help with domestic violence is available for calls or texts at 513-381-5610.
More resources are available on the Women Helping Women website.
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