Brooklyn is one of the few cities with a group helping domestic violence survivors

Posted at 8:05 AM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 08:07:14-04

Long before the #MeToo movement put sexual abuse and sexual assault front and center, Brooklyn, Ohio was leading the way for survivors.

Former City Council member Colleen Gallagher started the Domestic Abuse Commission in 2001 when she saw the negative impact of domestic violence.

"I became a bailiff over 20 years ago," Gallagher said. "In the courtroom, I saw a lot of domestic violence cases come through and some of them were horrific."

Gallagher's front row seat in the judicial system showed her how common domestic violence cases are. More were coming through her courtroom every day, but when she looked for solutions, she came up empty.

Back in 2001, even her own council needed convincing.

"I think some council members looked like, 'What? A domestic abuse commission?'" Gallagher said.

Eventually, they came around.

Nearly 20 years later, the group has a long list of accomplishments, like a safe room at Parma Hospital, training with local police departments and connections between the people who need help and the places that can provide it.

"They felt like they could reach out to me or anybody else on the commission for help and it worked," Gallagher said.

For more than two years, News 5 and the 5 on Your Side Investigators have shown how Ohio falls short helping domestic violence survivors, from problems serving protection orders to the lack of laws preventing abusers from buying guns. Brooklyn believes it is one of the few communities in the Greater Cleveland area with a commission specifically focused on helping survivors.

City Council member Meg Ryan Shockey leads the group now. She says one of the biggest impacts the commission has is making it just a little easier for survivors to get the help they need.

"I think it's something that's very prevalent in this day in age, and it's sad to say that it still is," said Shockey.