High rates of domestic violence reported on the Hilltop

By Dedra Cordle
Staff Writer

A local law enforcement official says domestic violence cases are trending upward in the Greater Hilltop area.

Sergeant Fred Brophy with the Columbus Division of Police attended a recent Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting to discuss crime numbers from January. He told the members of the local advisory board that he was alarmed by the number of domestic violence incidents that had occurred, particularly in comparison to all other serious crimes.

According to the division’s liaison to the westside, there were 32 reported cases of domestic violence incidents last month. He said there were likely many more acts of domestic violence that went unreported.

“If we had 32 incidents that we absolutely know of, we know that the absolute numbers are significantly higher than that.”

Compared to the other reported crimes that have taken place in the area over the same period of time, the 32 known cases of domestic violence incidents were higher than the number of all other serious crimes combined. They include:
•12 reports of burglaries
•six reports of guns discharged into habitations
•six reports of robberies to individuals
•Two reports of felonious assaults

Reported cases of domestic violence incidents even surpassed the 21 vehicular thefts that occurred.

With the exception of the cases of domestic violence, Brophy said all other crimes appeared to be lower than average. However, he said he is “alarmed” by the sheer amount of known acts of violence against family members, spouses, and other intimate partners.

“If all of our other crime numbers are down and this one is up, it just shows that there is a trend,” he said.

Commissioner Malik Moore asked whether areas other than the Greater Hilltop community were experiencing an uptick in domestic violence cases.

Brophy said it was occurring all over the city.

“We are not alone in this,” he said.

Brophy said he could not give a reason as to why there have been so many reported cases of domestic violence incidents in the local community or the surrounding communities. But he said he does know something has to be done now before it can get worse.

“We know that our homicide rates related to domestic incidents were significantly higher last year than they have been in the past,” he said.

According to city of Columbus officials, 25 people lost their lives to domestic violence-related homicides in 2023. In comparison, seven people lost their lives to domestic violence-related homicides in 2022.

Brophy encouraged those who are experiencing domestic violence to seek assistance as soon as safely possible. He also encouraged the community to come together to help these individuals find safety.

“This is my ask of our general citizenry: If you know somebody or if you are somebody that is in a situation where domestic violence is plaguing your life, know that we do have fantastic resources out there to help people get out of these types of situations.”

He offered these two numbers from LSS CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence, the only domestic violence shelter in Franklin County: 614-224-4663 (HOME) and 614-224-7200.

The first number (614-224-4663) is the crisis hotline for LSS CHOICES. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The hotline is staffed by trained individuals who can provide safety planning and also provide information as well as referrals based on the caller’s needs.
The second number (614-224-7200) is the non-crisis number that can also be used for general matters.

CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence began its service to the central Ohio community in 1977. It was one of the first programs in the state to address the needs of abused women and their children. CHOICES offers a variety of services for victims of intimate partner violence. They include temporary emergency shelter to give refuge for victims and their children in an undisclosed and highly secure setting; community and legal advocacy assistance; crisis counseling; and a kennel for pets. Through a partnership with Columbus Humane as an extension of their Safe Haven for Pets program, CHOICES has room for four dogs, eight cats, and pocket pets. Additional space is also available at Columbus Humane.

The shelter currently has 144 beds. The Westside Messenger reached out to CHOICES to see if there was space readily available for those who want and need to escape violent spouses and intimate partners. According to its spokesperson, the shelter census changes daily so it is not possible to know if they are at capacity for anytime besides for today.

“Rest assured that we work with each person who calls and their individual situation to figure out what is the best and safest course of action,” said Jennifer Hamilton, the director of marketing and communications for Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio. “We never turn away someone who is in high danger. We are the only domestic violence shelter and hotline in Franklin County, so if someone is experiencing intimate partner violence, they should reach out to CHOICES, and we can help, whether that’s coming to the shelter or another location or safety planning other options.”

To learn more about LSS CHOICES and their services, visit their website at lssnetworkofhope.org/choices.

Additional 24/7 hotlines that can be called are the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, 1-800-934-9840, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). The latter number can also be used for those who perpetrate, or are thinking about perpetrating, acts of domestic violence or intimate partner violence. Their trained staff can try to offer strategies to help individuals calm down and de-escalate the situation. They can also put individuals in contact with local organizations and resources that provide education on battering intervention and prevention programs.

To learn more about domestic violence and the signs of domestic violence and intimate partner violence, visit the LSS CHOICES website, the Ohio Domestic Violence Network website at www.odvn.org, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at www.thehotline.org. Each website comes with a prompt for a quick exit off the page.

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