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New web portal connects survivors of domestic violence with legal support

Ohio Legal Help's hub allows users to complete Civil Protection Order Forms online.

TOLEDO, Ohio — As domestic violence shelters are seeing an increase in calls for help during the pandemic, a new tool is available to protect survivors. 

"Ohio domestic violence networks saw more than a doubling of calls to their hotline during the pandemic," says Susan Choe with Ohio Legal Help. 

She adds that isolation increased tension in the home, leading to a greater need for survivors of domestic violence. 

Now, there's a new tool to help them get an added layer of protection. 

Choe says, "We want to create an innovative 21st century tool for folks who want to start the process for a domestic violence CPO."  That's a civil protection order. 

Survivors can go to www.ohiolegalhelp.org to fill out the forms online, starting and stopping as they need to. It's accessible not only on a computer, but also a phone and tablet.

"Essentially it helps keep the abuser away and also may allow you to have the home to yourself and also allows protection for your children and for pets, actually," says Choe.

Ohio Legal Help expects about 50,000 users will access the new hub within a year.

The site also has information about local shelters and advocates who can help survivors with safety planning. Places like The Cocoon in Bowling Green, which served 747 survivors in 2020 and 660 so far this year. 

"So we're seeing more and more survivors experiencing frequent, more frequent abuse and also abuse that's escalating in severity," says Kathy Mull with the Cocoon.

The Cocoon is working with businesses in Bowling Green through October to raise awareness for domestic violence and help available. 

If you are in a dangerous situation, call 911 or 419-373-1730. Select option two to speak with an advocate.

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