Domestic violence victims can seek shelter during stay-at-home order

File photo (Marjan Apostolovic /

As Ohio enters day two of the stay-at-home order, domestic violence safety advocates want people to know they can still leave their homes if they need to seek shelter.

“That is permissible in the Governor’s order, and we are on the crisis line to help people plan how to best do that to keep them and their family safe,” says Sue Villilo with CHOICES for Victims of Domestic Violence, the only shelter serving Franklin County. “It is one of the exceptions under the new orders,’ she emphasized.

Villilo says right now her main concern is for clients or people who are in a possible domestic violence situation.

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“If everyone is staying at home, then the person that is making your home unsafe may be staying home and you don't have a way to reach out and get the help you need,” says Villilo.

“If you are in a relationship with an intimate power who is exhibiting efforts to control your behavior, have power over you and your decisions, that’s intimate partner violence,” she goes on to say. “That's really what we deal with at CHOICES and where we often see lethality in those situations.”

CHOICES continues to run it’s 24-hour hotline (614-224-HOME or 614-224-2663) which is taking new calls every day. Villilo says she wants people to know that calling the hotline doesn’t mean they have to come to the shelter.

“We can help you access other services and resources and make a plan to be as safe as you can be,” she said. Villilo said a plan would include looking at all domains, such as where a person works, their children and their schooling situation.

Right now, CHOICES is practicing social distancing with clients who are utilizing the shelter. That includes making sure groups have no more than 5 people, including children. The shelter has also undergone extra sanitation and cleaning and families are being encouraged not to leave the building to best protect other families and staff members.