How Cincinnati police, advocates work together to stop domestic violence from turning deadly

CINCINNATI -- Robert Wilson said he's seen thousands of domestic violence cases. Many start out minor.

"It may just be a push or grab, and then it'll escalate to slapping or hitting," he said.

Wilson, a detective with the Cincinnati Police Department, knows that can quickly become deadly. He's part of a support network -- one that includes law enforcement officials and survivor advocates -- that works to stop that from happening.

According to the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, the state had 115 fatalities from 83 cases of domestic violence between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017.

Six were in Hamilton County.

And police say it happened against last week: Gary Box, 41, is charged with murder in the death of his child's mother at her East Price Hill home. Investigators discovered 37-year-old Tanisha Huff dead Oct. 6 -- a little over a week after she filed a criminal complaint alleging Box had pointed a revolver at her after an argument.

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Another complaint filed Oct. 4 accused Box of sending threatening messages to an unidentified recipient and her children; a judge had granted both Huff and another complainant temporary restraining orders.

The problem often starts in childhood, Wilson said: Someone sees their mother or father engaged in abusive behavior, and they learn it.

Sometimes, survivors are hesitant to act -- but advocates say they shouldn't be. With the help of state laws suck as mandatory arrest, police try to separate the aggressor and survivor in hopes of mitigating tensions and any other future assaults.

"They get torn because you don't want to see that person punished, but in a lot of cases, it actually helps because they can get anger management and there are other resources to help rehabilitate them to be an effective partner rather than a repeat offender," Wilson said.

Women Helping Women, another nonprofit advocacy group supporting survivors, works in partnership with all five police districts.

"(We're) expanding that partnership so that we will have advocates working with Cincinnati police to actually respond on scene and provide that support in the moment," said Kendra Massey, vice president of programming for Women Helping Women.

A candlelight vigil Wednesday night at the Hamilton County Courthouse honors all who've lost their lives to domestic violence. It's one of several events planned in October, which is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

If you or someone you know is a victim of ongoing domestic violence, you can call the YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline at 513-872-9259 or the House of Peace Hotline at 513-753-7281. Both hotlines remain open 24 hours and work.

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