Domestic Violence Victims Need Help with Parking

An Open Letter to Cuyahoga County Asking for Help

Mr. Armond Budish
Cuyahoga County Executive
Cuyahoga County Administrative Headquarters
2079 East Ninth Street 
Cleveland, OH 44115

Dear Mr. Budish:

A woman experiencing homelessness has informed us of a problem facing women who are going through domestic violence.  The Northeast Ohio Coalition believes that the County could help.  I have recently been made aware of a women who is a victim of domestic abuse that lost her income and housing after a “partner/victimizer” was arrested and charged with domestic violence and additional charges.   Not only did he abuse her, but he is responsible for the deaths of three women in East Cleveland, and is sitting in jail awaiting trial.  This women has been subpoenaed repeatedly to testify against her abuser in one of the cases.  We currently have a letter from her seeking help to pay for the fees she has to pay for parking as she appears in court.  She is complaining about the fact that she has lost her income and is financially strapped, but has to continue to show up in court for the proceedings against her abuser.  She does not have the fees that she needs to pay to park her vehicle either at the public parking meters or the county parking garage while she attends court appearance after court appearance as the victim of abuse. 

I am asking if there is any way that victims of domestic violence who have to appear in court be given free parking passes to the County garage for the days that they have to appear due to the cases associated with the domestic violence that was perpetrated against them. Unfortunately, these women typically have their finances tied up in legal proceedings as they try to separate from their abuser.  Others flee their abuser with only their clothing and some pocket change.  The woman who contacted us for help has two autistic children to complicate the matter.  She had to pay for parking on July 20, July 30 and August 11 to visit the defendants Parole Officer and then to the Domestic Violence Unit at the Justice Center.  She even missed a hearing because she did not have money for the parking garage and drove around for over 20 minutes until she could find a meter.  She has contacted several agencies who were not able to help her. 

Is it possible that these women who are victims of domestic violence who have to be at the Justice Center be issued a special pass which allows them to park for free while they are across the street at the Justice Center taking care of the business necessary to bring their abuser to justice?  They have already suffered greatly at the hands of someone who claimed to love them and many of them feel victimized again by the system that is in place to help them.  Even putting together a fund through Domestic Violence Child Advocacy Center would be helpful.

I would ask that you consider this request.  If you need to speak to me to discuss this, I can be reached at (216) 432-0540, ext 102.

Sincerely,

Denise Toth

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry

PS:  The DVC folks called saying that there are funds available to the woman through the Cuyahoga County Witness/Victim of Crime Center.  This is wonderful news but it is not clear to advocates, outreach teams or us that this is available on their list of services here.  It is no wonder that this woman who wrote a two paged impassioned letter asking for help was not clear where to get help.  No where on the page do they say that they help with parking or can help with her austic children while she goes to court.  There is counseling and supportive services, but it is not clear they can offer financial help with transportation.  They should do a better job advertising their services and even being clear on their own website that this is available. Here is the description of the agency from the 2-1-1 database:

Provides victims/witnesses of misdemeanor and felony crimes with information, counseling, support, and advocacy to address the emotional, psychological, and financial hardships caused by crime. Seeks to ensure that victims will be treated with dignity, and receive quality, comprehensive services to assist in meeting their full range of needs.

It does not spell out the assistance available for parking, so how is a victim supposed to know to ask for this help from them?  Good to know, but maybe they need some additional funds to be more clear to victims that their service is available and can help them get to court to testify against their abusers. 

Brian Davis, just my opinion.

We Need A Community Conversation on Domestic Violence

We have posted the domestic violence statistics for the major counties and all the counties surrounding Cuyahoga in Northeast Ohio.  We have provided the number of police calls regarding violence within a household, the number of fatalities and injuries combined with the number of shelter beds (above).  These are dedicated beds exclusively for those fleeing violence.  What we see from above is the large number of calls compared to the small number of beds available.  In fact only Medina, Lorain and Erie Counties have fewer beds than Cuyahoga County, and they have a small population compared to Cuyahoga County.   We need a discussion about the our response to violence in the community, because with so few emergency beds how are we keeping women safe?

We know that 70 to 80% of the women in the shelters are fleeing violence or have violence in their past.  We know that many women are not getting the specialized care needed to make a clean break from an abuser.  We have a woman who was nearly beaten to death by her abuser last year, and lives on the streets with her attacker.  No matter how much we talk to her and show her that she has a choice and has options she returns to her long time boyfriend.  They drink and she ends up in the hospital.  There was a nice story on NPR about domestic violence and women who are resistant to going into shelter on August 30.  This story was by Gabrielle Emanuel who followed one woman around at night in DC.  

We only have 24 beds locally and some of those beds are prioritized for Jewish women.  The current system in Cuyahoga County is not working, and we need a better safety net for women fleeing relationship violence.  We need more safe places for women to flee.  We should have professional help for everyone fleeing violence.  We need to keep women, even those women who abuse drugs or alcohol, away from their abusers.  We need to help those with a mental illness to stay safe in the face of large numbers of men who prey on weaker people.

All the family shelters do their best to keep women safe, but there is a need for specialized trained staff to help these women from returning to their abuser.   We need counselors who can convince women that the road forward might be tough, but it is better than the alternative.  We need professionals who can inspire confidence that their abuser will not get to them and will not harm the children.   We need trained professionals who can help when the abuser bankrupts the victim.  We need a whole different approach to providing assistance to women fleeing abuse from emergency to transitional to legal and follow up services after the family is stabilized.  We need more resources to serve domestic violence starting with more emergency beds in Cuyahoga County. 

Brian Davis

Posts reflect the opinion of those who sign the entry. 

Brian Davis