Officers use new program to help domestic abuse victims

Pam Georgiana

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – If you ask Pam Georgiana, the director of engagement at CHOICES, every day is a busy day.

“The calls have gone up but they are being answered and people are being helped,” Georgiana shared. “The lethality program is doing really well.”

CHOICES is a resource for victims of domestic violence, and it is seeing more people come through its doors as more law enforcement officers are using a “lethality assessment program.”

The lethality assessment program, or LAP, has police officers ask victims of domestic abuse some tough questions in an effort to get them help immediately.

With 19 departments on board, that means dozens of police officers and sheriff’s deputies are now using the LAP survey on the scene of domestic abuse calls.

The survey increases the ability of law enforcement officers to gauge just how critical a domestic violence situation is.

The program also allows officers make direct calls for help for a victim who might otherwise downplay a potentially fatal situation.

“Domestic violence happens in our community every day,” Georgiana said.

Recently a new study aimed to shed light on the issue.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence took a census nationwide on September 10. In Ohio, they found that shelters and programs helped more than 1,800 people that day in 2014.

“These are your neighbors. These are people that live here in Franklin County. They may live on your street, you may work with one and you just are not aware of it,” Georgiana said.

In Franklin County alone she says there are 40 beds, but at least 60 or more people on most days staying at the shelter for domestic violence victims many of whom are children who have to double up, sleeping sometimes on cots or couches.

“There are plans to build a new building,” Georgiana said pointing out that CHOICES is currently searching for funding and a new location.

No matter how full the Franklin County shelter gets, she says they always find a way to help every victim that reaches out.

The 24-hour hotline to get help or information about domestic violence is 614-224-HOME.

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