Sponsors say this legislation will close a loophole that leaves victims vulnerable to intimate partner violence.

The Ohio House of Representatives today passed HB 392, legislation to modernize Ohio’s domestic violence laws, according to a press release from State Rep. Emilia Strong Sykes. House Bill 392 passed the House with bipartisan support with a vote of 89-0. The bill now goes to the Senate for further consideration.

The bill, sponsored by Sykes (D-Akron) and Christie Kuhns (D-Cincinnati), will allow victims of domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner to obtain civil protective orders against their attacker, Sykes wrote.

If enacted, HB 392 will close a loophole in existing state law that leaves thousands of Ohioans without recourse in the event of domestic violence, Sykes added.

Right now, Ohio only defines domestic violence as occurring between spouses, family members, those cohabiting, or parents. People in ongoing, substantial, intimate and romantic relationships are not included in Ohio’s definition.

“The most dangerous moment for a victim of domestic violence is when they try to separate from their abuser,” said Sykes. “By modernizing Ohio’s domestic violence laws to include individuals in serious dating relationships, we can help victims in any abusive relationship access the recourse they need to end the cycle of violence.”

Sykes added that Ohio and Georgia are the only two states that do not cover dating violence under their domestic violence laws. Kentucky, the last Ohio border state to expand protections, signed a domestic violence modernization bill into law last year.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines abuse as a repetitive pattern of behaviors, including physical or sexual violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and economic deprivation, used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Women aged 18 to 34 face the highest rates of intimate partner violence. In the United States, a woman is assaulted or beaten every nine seconds.