CHARDON — While recent discussion has been focused on Ohio State Football Coach Urban Meyer’s suspension, a local domestic violence advocate said the attention should also be directed in the opposite direction to highlight victim support.

“I think, really at the end of the day, are we worried the victim or about Ohio State Football?” said Andrea Gutka, CEO of Women Safe, Inc., a shelter and resource center in Geauga County.

For the past few weeks, the discussion has been centered around the Ohio State football investigation. Gutka believes there’s another location that attention should be centered within.

“I think we want to get caught up in so much of the rules of who should’ve said what to whom and we lose the nature of ‘Is she safe? Are we listening to her? Are we supporting her?’”

Gutka said the importance of where that attention is placed, crafts a message for the public.

“It’s really about establishing a safe place, letting someone know that you’re there, giving them information and resources to provide assistance.”

Working inside a shelter means Gutka has a direct line into the details of what victims go through, the challenges they may face and the critical need for support for those who may feel alone in a situation.

“Just from an everyday, coming to work and being an advocate,” said Gutka. “How am I supporting people? Did I get caught up in the paperwork or the process? Or did I take a break and listen to what they’re telling us.”

She said it was also disheartening to see victim blaming on social media. But Gutka remains optimistic that the recent events that unfolded will continue a much-needed discussion.

“I think if we’re trying to find our silver lining, it’s that hopefully it’s raising awareness and maybe we’re not asking the questions we need to ask to our loved ones and our friends.”

Gutka said the case has also opened the door to talk about the signs of domestic violence and the steps people can take to protect friends, coworkers or loved ones.

We’ve provided a list of resources below:

- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

- WomenSafe, Inc.

- Ohio Domestic Violence Network