HAMILTON COUNTY, Ohio — A new unit will be dedicated to reviewing criminal cases in which women and children are victims of violent crimes, Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters said.
Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid will lead the “Crimes of Violence against Women and Children” unit, which will include other assistant prosecutors, a victim advocate and an investigator.
Deters said one attorney will handle the cases so each case can maintain one assigned prosecutor and one victim advocate. This method of “vertical prosecution” helps victims avoid sharing their experiences multiple times and fosters trust and communication.
About 25% of women have experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime and reported some form of impact related to intimate partner violence, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Homicide is one of the leading causes of death for women 44 years old and younger (rates vary by race/ethnicity), and nearly half of women victims are killed by a man who is a current or former intimate partner, according to a 2017 report from the CDC.
Deters said he started the unit now because the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for victims to seek help.
“Closed schools mean that schoolteachers are no longer seeing and reporting signs of abuse of their students. Work from home policies mean co-workers are no longer able to encourage abuse victims to get help. Stay at home orders lead to abused women and children being forced to be with their abuser 24/7. Victims may feel like there is no way out. As your Hamilton County Prosecutor, I want to make it clear that there is hope,” Deters said in a press release.
If you or someone you know needs help, text or call Women Helping Women at 513-381-5610 or call the YWCA at 513-872-9259. If you know or suspect a child is being abused, call 241-KIDS.