Hamilton County Domestic Violence Summit

Collaborating for Safer Communities—summary


On October 26, 2018, a diverse group of community members gathered at the University of Cincinnati College of Law to attend and participate in a Hamilton County Domestic Violence Summit.  This Summit was collaboratively conceived of and organized by individuals at the Hamilton County Adult Probation Department, Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Ohio Justice and Policy Center, University of Cincinnati College of Law Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Women Helping Women, and YWCA Greater Cincinnati, out of their shared commitment to improving systemwide response to domestic violence locally.  Improving systemwide response requires systemwide participation, thus, the Summit organizers aimed to bring together people from various different local organizations and agencies whose work involves intimate partner abuse – and we succeeded.  Over 110 people attended, including: law enforcement, social workers, magistrates and judges, child welfare workers and advocates, victim advocates, probation and parole officers, criminal defense, prosecutors, and domestic relations lawyers, batterer intervention program staff, professors and law students, and mediators.  The below Summary briefly describes what happened at the Summit and also identifies specific issues and possible next steps.

Synopsis of Program

Training Session

Three training sessions were held in the morning: “Understanding Cases That Don’t Make Sense”; “Domestic Violence and Lethality”; and “Post-Conviction Considerations in Domestic Violence Cases.”  

Training topics included: 

  • Batterer manipulation, 
  • the systemic challenges and obstacles victims face, 
  • research on recantation, 
  • why victims stay in abusive relationships and/or don’t participate in prosecutions,
  • lethality factors and assessment, 
  • and post-conviction best practices.

Keynote Address

“No One Can Do It Alone: Building a Coordinated Community Response to End Gender-Based Abuse” by Kit Gruelle, Advocate, Survivor, featured in the HBO Documentary Private Violence

Ms. Gruelle presented models and best practices for systemwide responses to gender-based abuse based on her more than 30 years’ experience in the field and her extensive work on coordinating community responses.  

Small Group Workshops

After lunch, ten small groups met in break-out sessions to discuss two hypothetical situations.  The hypotheticals and the facilitator prompts are available online.  By design, these groups included participants who work in different areas of the system to facilitate discussions from varying perspectives and priorities, to identify potential gaps in the system, and to encourage brainstorming on how to develop collaborative, systemwide strategies for improvement.

Plenary Panel Discussion: “Best Practices, Goals, and Next Steps”

The Summit’s final session was a plenary panel discussion designed to build on the day’s earlier trainings and small group workshops, and to help pull things together.  Each of the five panelists spoke briefly about where his or her organization fit into Hamilton County's systems and structures for addressing and responding to domestic violence, and about that organization's existing best practices relating to collaborating with others in the system. The moderator opened up the panel for attendee/audience Q&A, with the goal of discussing how different actors in the system can foster a more integrated response to domestic violence in Hamilton County.  Following Q&A, the panel transitioned to a discussion of “next steps” that had begun to emerge from the day’s work and the panel’s and audience members’ insights.

Resources Available in Hamilton County

The planning committee for the Summit compiled a list of domestic-violence-related resources available in Hamilton County that was included in the packet of materials distributed to the participants.

Issues Identified and Possible Next Steps

Based on the discussion that took place during the final session of the Summit, a review of the notes taken in the break-out groups, and the evaluations, the following is a summary of key issues identified and possible next steps.

Issues and possible next steps for combatting domestic violence in Hamilton County.
Issues Identified (recurring) Possible Next Steps

Partnerships between law enforcement and victim advocacy agencies for early intervention (i.e., DVERT Program (CPD and Women Helping Women) and LAP Program (Colerain PD and YWCA))

Create more collaborations between law enforcement and DV advocates for early and comprehensive response

Cultural competency - Adequately addressing the needs of our most under-served, vulnerable, minority, and immigrant populations

Recruiting, hiring, and training officers who are multi-lingual
Translation services – improve and increase
More community liaisons to work with/for diverse populations

Need to move to evidence-based prosecution

  • Strangulation
  • Identifying primary aggressor

Training based on known best practices
Strangulations should be prosecuted as felonies (deadly force); police officers can serve as experts

Collect evidence so that DV cases can be prosecuted without victim participation

Need for greater understanding of victims’ circumstances, actions, and responses

Community education on the impact of batterer manipulation, why victims don’t leave abusive relationships and/or cooperate with prosecution
Remove barriers in the systems
Use trauma-informed practices with victims

Need for more systemwide understanding of protection orders, Amy’s Law, and lethality factors

Systemwide Training

Lack of Defendant Intervention Services

Looking at the possibility of implementing a high risk response team locally

Need for more coordination between criminal and civil systems

Community conversations to improve communication and collaboration
Identifying opportunities for cross-training

Services for children who are abused and exposed to violence, who are at risk of themselves becoming abusers and/or juvenile offenders

Identifying existing resources and gaps

Privacy issues related to the use of body worn cameras and video by the parties

Community education on what is happening, best practices, and the law

Pre-trial issues:  Bond, Bail, and Electronic Monitoring

Community education on what is happening, best practices, and the law

Everyone is a potential first responder

Training for first responders, broadly defined

The Next Step

The first post-Summit event, which will include training and opportunities for networking, will be held in January. We will be contacting you with the details soon.  If you are interested in being part of the planning committee for the January event, please contact Angela Inglis at  We hope you will join us for future events.  Let’s keep the momentum going!

With generous funding from:

Stephen H. Wilder and Cincinnati Bar Foundation logos

Co-sponsored by: