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OAESV works with its Survivor Advisory Council and local rape crisis centers to develop long-and short-term public policy objectives. OAESV staff then develop and implement strategies to support the passage of laws and budget resolutions necessary to achieve those objectives. In 2018 and 2019, OAESV staff provided testimony to the Ohio Legislature on a number of bills and held numerous legislative meetings in order to gain support for an increase to the Rape Crisis Centers Line Item in the Ohio Operating Budget.

OAESV Notice & Comment Period Response to Proposed Federal Rules on Appellate Procedures and Decisional Finality in Immigration Proceedings

OAESV’s core mission and values lead to our utmost opposition to this proposed rule – the latest in a series of efforts to put boundaries between individuals with immigration court matters and due process. This proposed rule makes the already burdensome and dangerous task of navigating immigration court systems to plead their case an even more potentially fatal endeavor. Specifically, survivors of sexual and domestic violence and human trafficking will, as a result of increasing barriers and this proposed rule, likely find their case denied. This is particularly likely when survivors are unrepresented – and just about 37% of immigrants are represented in removal proceedings, and 86% of immigrants in detention facilities went unrepresented.3 It is exceedingly difficult for respondents without counsel to navigate the enormous complexity of the U.S. immigration system. As survivors whose cases have been denied are often deported back to extremely dangerous, even life-threatening, situations, it is crucial that immigration court proceedings provide all immigrants with every opportunity to have their fair day in court.

Read our full comment here.

OAESV Notice & Comment Period Response to Proposed Federal Rule Reducing Asylum Access

On June 15th, 2020, the Federal Executive Branch proposed sweeping changes to the U.S. asylum system that would make it nearly impossible for people fleeing persecution to obtain protection in the United States, including effectively eliminating access for sexual violence survivors.

Despite the pandemic, the government provided the shortest possible Notice & Comment Period available, leaving stakeholders just 30 days to process and respond to the proposed rule. OAESV’s comment objected both to substantive provisions impacting sexual violence survivors and the mere 30-day window to respond. We believe that survivors must have access to safe and that stakeholders must be able to participate in democratic processes, such as administrative rulemaking, through appropriately paced response periods.

Read our comment here.

Sexual Violence in Ohio: OAESV’s Legislative Newsletter

Interested in our legislative work? Click here to read our legislative newsletters! These are sent to Ohio lawmakers in an effort to keep them up-to-date on any federal legislation impacting survivors, our statewide priorities, and any events and updates we have.

OAESV Thanks to the Ohio House & Senate for Increased Rape Crisis Services Funding

On April 13, 2021, the Ohio House of Representatives approved an increased budget for the Ohio Rape Crisis
Centers line item (“Line Item”), taking it from $4.75 million per fiscal year in 2019 to $7.3 million per
fiscal year in 2021.

The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (OAESV) has advocated heavily for this sizeable increase,
which was necessary in order to respond to increased demand for services as well as to position Ohio’s
35 rape crisis programs to expand services to cover all 88 counties of the state. The statewide training
and technical assistance provider said this increase will change the landscape of rape crisis services in
our state and will positively impact the lives of thousands of Ohioans. The group now respectfully asks
the Ohio Senate to build on this increase in their upcoming hearings.

Ohio has just 35 rape crisis centers tasked with providing 24/7 crisis hotline response and emergency
room advocacy, legal advocacy, prevention education and other life-saving services across the entire
state. In 2020, these programs lost over $8.3 million per fiscal year in operating expenses. They had to
cut staff and leave open positions vacant, all while fielding a 50% increase in the monthly rate of
survivors receiving advocacy and a 34% increase in the monthly rate of hotline calls.

“We are so grateful to our champions in the Ohio House of Representatives for their diligence in
pursuing an increase to the Rape Crisis Centers Line Item. The House has acted in the best interest of the
1 in 5 people who are impacted by sexual violence,” said Camille Crary, Director of Legal Services and
Public Policy at OAESV.

Before 2014, Ohio survivors could access rape crisis services in less than half of Ohio’s 88 counties.
Programs serving these counties operated heavily on federal grants, and the vast majority of federal
grants restrict funding to the creation or maintenance of new positions and heavily regulate the tasks
those grants will support. This, along with federal funding reductions of more than 25% in 2020 and
nearly 40% in 2021, left Ohio rape crisis programs without a dependable funding stream to cover costs
associated with keeping their doors open.

To expand service accessibility across counties, and to increase the financial stability of Ohio’s existing
rape crisis programs, OAESV worked diligently with Ohio legislators and the Attorney General’s office to
create the Ohio Rape Crisis Centers budget line item. Under the Line Item, programs that meet the Core
Standards are eligible for unrestricted funds. The Line Item’s positive impact has been swift and
powerful. For instance, many programs were able to extend their services to cover additional counties,
increase employment, and create prevention programming.
As counties providing services have increased since 2014, so have reports of sexual violence to law
enforcement. This is just one way that the Line Item has demonstrated a tangible and impressive impact
since it was first introduced.

Now, the increased demand for survivor services and prevention work, and the gap in funding left after
federal cuts, will further be met with this impactful increase in Line Item funds. “OAESV is so thankful
that members of the Ohio House have made this decision to support survivors in Ohio and the advocates
who serve them and to help put an end to sexual violence in our state,” says the group’s Executive
Director, Rosa Beltré. “Without this increase, rape crisis centers will cease to exist in half of our current
service areas. We now respectfully call on the Senate to continue this support and solidify this increase
for the Governor’s signature.”

The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence will continue their advocacy efforts at their upcoming
Advocacy Day, taking place on April 20th at the Ohio Statehouse. The yearly event is focused on
engagement and discussion between Ohio lawmakers and their constituents who are passionate about
ending sexual violence, and it draws survivors of sexual violence, professionals, and volunteers from all
around Ohio.

Get Involved!

Download OAESV’s Ohio Rape Crisis Line Item Call to Action Toolkit HERE.

Advocate Privilege in Ohio: The Time is Now

OAESV is advocating for a proposed bill that, if enacted, would establish Advocate Privilege in Ohio – meaning that communications between sexual assault survivors and rape crisis advocates would be legally protected in the same way that communications between doctors and patients, and attorneys and clients, are protected. We believe survivors deserve access to advocacy services without worrying about what they say or what they’ve endured.

Eliminating the Statute of Limitations and Spousal Exemptions on Rape

In November 2019, the Senate Judiciary Committee is holding its first hearing on Senate Bill 162: Eliminate Statute of Limitations for Rape; Spousal Exceptions. OAESV has been involved in previous efforts to remove the Statute of Limitations, including an effort that resulted in a modified bill that (instead of eliminating the SOL) increased the SOL to 25 years with a 5-year DNA match extension. As an agency, we believed that this incremental improvement was better than no improvement at all, but we know that the only way to ensure justice for all survivors is to eliminate the SOL completely, and we will never stop fighting until that goal is achieved. We ask for your support for the newest bill, set to completely eliminate the statute of limitations on rape as well as spousal exemptions for sex crimes.

Erin’s Law: Requiring Age-Appropriate Education on Sexual Violence

Erin’s Law, in effect in 37 states, creates safer environments and lives for children. Ohio’s children and families deserve the same level of protection and prevention services.

Reauthorizing VAWA in 2021

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) expired on September 30, 2018. The House passed VAWA reauthorization legislation in April 2019, but the Senate did not follow and the term expired before reauthorization could be achieved. On March 17, 2021, the House again passed VAWA reauthorization legislation. Senators are beginning their process. Rape Crisis Programs and affiliated programs can tell their senators that the Senate must pass one bipartisan bill that contains all of the House Bill protections.
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