CLEVELAND — On paper it's House Bill 3, but legislation currently on its way to the Ohio Senate honors a beloved sixth-grade teacher whose ex-husband stabbed her to death following years of domestic abuse.
Advocates say Aisha's Law, named after Aisha Fraser, would better protect domestic violence victims by arming police with more tools to detect potentially deadly encounters and immediately get them the help they need.
"With this law, she will be memorialized in a way that gives hope to those experiencing an abusive relationship," said Melissa Graves, of the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center.
Graves said Fraser would still be alive if the legislation born from her tragic death was already law in Ohio.
"It's going to make a very big difference in how we respond," said Graves.
Representative Janine Boyd co-sponsored Aisha's Law, which unanimously passed in the Ohio House.
"I get emotional when I think about it. I really genuinely believe it's going to save lives," said Boyd.
Part of the bill calls for increased training for first responders so they can better gauge domestic violence situations.
"They'll have a tool that they can assess by asking a series of very simple and brief questions," said Graves.
The answers will help determine if that case has the potential to escalate into a homicide.
"So, it's a really important tool," said Graves.
One that police in a handful of Cleveland neighborhoods have been using for a few years now.
"Intimate partner homicides were reduced by 62% in those districts," said Graves.
According to Graves, this legislation will not only save lives; it will make a big difference for survivors.
"They'll have access to a victim advocate, to counseling, to therapy, to safety planning, getting protection orders and emergency shelter if that's what they need and want," said Graves.
Aisha's Law also calls for strangulation to be charged as a felony. Ohio is just one of two states where it is not.
"Research indicates that when somebody in a domestic violence situation has been a victim of strangulation, it's seven times more likely to escalate in violence and result in a homicide,” said Graves.
Graves believes these changes will increase the likelihood victims will find safety and make abusers more accountable.
“I really hope the Senate follows suit," said Graves.
Aisha's Law would also allow victims to get an emergency protection order outside of the court's regular hours.
If you or someone you know is currently in a dangerous situation you can text or call 391-HELP (4357).
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