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LAKEWOOD, OHIO – In a unanimous vote Monday, Lakewood City Council members made what they call as a step forward for the city in protecting domestic violence victims.

Council removed domestic violence and menacing by stalking from the city’s nuisance ordinance. Prior to this change, under the city law, domestic violence was defined as a nuisance activity, which could make some victims think twice before calling police for help.

In a March interview, city councilman Dan O’Malley said the city did not enforce nuisance laws relating to domestic violence calls.

“It is the worst, one of the worst situations you can find yourself in,” said city councilman Dan O’Malley during a March interview about the issue. “You are afraid enough to call the police in many of these circumstances and seek protection. You shouldn’t have one more barrier where you’re worried that your landlord might declare you a nuisance.”

According to city councilman Tristan Rader, this change does not affect the laws in place to protect domestic violence victims, instead the change affects what can count towards a property being declared a nuisance.

Rader issued the following statement Tuesday to Fox 8:

“Our aim here is to encourage victims of domestic abuse or domestic violence to not be afraid to call for help. There are some recent studies that show that when nuisance laws are in effect, people do become afraid to call the police for fear of being charged under the nuisance law themselves or for fear of being evicted because they may have caused there landlord to be charged fines or fees.  The point here is to send a clear message that if you are the victim of a domestic violence or you fear you may become a victim, we want you to call for help.”