Advocates call for anti-SLAPP laws to protect domestic violence victims from frivolous lawsuits

From NBC4

Ohio has had 91 domestic violence-related fatalities over the last year, according to advocates who are calling for lawmakers to do more to protect victims.

The Ohio Domestic Violence Network compiled data from 69 cases mentioned in media reports from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018. A gun was involved in 71 percent of those incidents, according to reports.

Advocates say the state needs to do more to educate Ohioans about domestic violence and prevent it.  

Bridget Mahoney, the chair of the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, is a former news anchor, who is also a domestic violence survivor.

“I left my position in northeast Ohio to move to Cincinnati, Ohio, to try and get away from it and it only made it worse,” Mahoney said.

She said the state is not doing enough to protect its people.

“The way that we are going to bring those numbers down is through prevention, education, awareness and belief of the victims,” Mahoney said.

Mahoney said the only way that prevention and education happens is through funding.

“Pennsylvania, right next door to the east of us, $15 million dedicated each year to [domestic violence]. The average state $7.5 million; Ohio… zero,” Mahoney said.

She wants a line item in the budget to fund prevention and education efforts.

Mahoney also wants lawmakers to stop dragging their feet on two pieces of legislation currently in front of them that could make life better for victims of domestic violence.

One bill would recognize strangulation as domestic violence, something the state currently does not.

You are seven times more likely to be killed by your partner if they strangle you, according to the organization.

The other bill would create anti-SLAPP laws to protect victims from frivolous lawsuits meant to discourage them from speaking out.

Despite support for the former bill, neither is anywhere close to passing.

Mahoney says they just aren’t a priority for the party in power at the Statehouse.