DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN)– Experts say the number of Ohioans killed through domestic violence has increased over the course of the pandemic.

The YWCA of Dayton is the only domestic violence shelter that serves both Montgomery and Preble counties, and they believe one of the most dangerous results of the pandemic was the victims isolated at home with their abusers. However, they say calls for help aren’t slowing down.

“We have been seeing abuse escalating, but it’s also escalating faster than it was pre-pandemic,” said YWCA Communications Director Audrey Starr.

The YWCA of Dayton is advocating for Ohio Senate Bill 90, they call it a bill that could save the lives of domestic violence victims. With bipartisan support, Senate Bill 90 would make the act of strangulation a third-degree felony in Ohio. Currently, strangulation is a felony in 48 states but not in Ohio or South Carolina.

“There are certain indicators of abuse escalating and particularly escalating into a homicide situation and strangulation is at the top of that list,” said Starr. “Any time we see domestic violence victims whose abuser is using strangulation as an abuse tactic, there is a much higher chance of that escalating into a fatal situation.”

According to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, it reported a 62 percent increase in domestic violence related deaths from two years ago. YWCA of Dayton staff say they are the voice for the voiceless.

“A lot of times when you’re healing from trauma or just come into the shelter, there’s a hierarchy of needs and not at the top of that list is going to the state house and advocating for legislation that can help other survivors, but we can do that,” said Starr.

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