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Garfield Heights court reports a spike in domestic violence cases

Posted at 11:02 PM, Sep 24, 2018

Garfield Heights Municipal Judge Deborah Nicastro reports a spike in suburban domestic violence over the past two years.

Nicastro's court oversees eight northeast Ohio cities including Garfield and Maple Heights and said the recent increase has her court working to increase domestic violence awareness.

Nicastro reported 20 domestic violence cases to her court, just during the recent Labor Day weekend. 

"It's heartbreaking. It's heartbreaking that people's lives have gotten to this point," Nicastro said.

"I wish I had the answer as to why this abuse continues and grows and grows."

"You fear that they're not going to stop their behavior and somebody is going to be hurt. Sometimes I tell them, you just have to go to jail, because I need to protect everybody around you."

Nicastro told News 5 the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center has been critical in providing key support for victims of suburban domestic violence.

Center Training Specialist Megan Gergen told News 5 her agency took in 12,344 calls to its 24-hour helplinelast year alone.

"We have advocates in most of the suburban courts," Gergen said.

"We have therapy services. We have support groups. Reporting doesn't mean just involving the police, reporting means just getting that support and being safe."

Judge Nicastro said she believes there is a wide variety of reasons for the suburban spike, and she's urging victims to contact the Domestic Violence and Child Advocacy Center 24-hour Helpline, at 216-391-HELP (4357), and report abuse sooner.

"Mental health issues, money issues, drug and alcohol issues. Just people who have grown up in an abusive home, and they've become abusive," Nicastro said.

"Call the domestic violence hotline. It's confidential, no judge is going to know about it, no police officer is going to know about it, your employer isn't going to know about it."