CLEVELAND (WJW) — New legislation by Cleveland City Council aims to protect employees of the city of Cleveland and their children who are survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking with up to 60 hours paid time off.

“This is a real crisis and emergency,” said Ward 7 Councilmember Stephanie Howse, a co-sponsor of the legislation. “That’s a lot of people every single day that are brutalized, that are terrorized that are going through horrific things.”

The legislation, which city council approved Monday night, is a response in part to more than 9,000 domestic and sexual assaults reported in 2021 by Cleveland Police. It states as many as 60 percent of victims lose their jobs due to the abuse and missed time from work.

Howse said, “How many of those women, men, people, work here for the city of Cleveland? We don’t know.”

“We know that one in five women who live in the state of Ohio will be raped in their lifetime,” said Sondra Miller, President and CEO of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center.

Hard truths, Miller worked with city council to bring to light, so survivors don’t have to choose between reporting their assault and their job. She applauded the city for taking this step forward and encouraged other employers to follow.

“We know how hard it is to recover from domestic violence or sexual assault,” said Miller. “We hear from survivors all of the time they’re very worried about the implications for their job…you can’t schedule a trial at 8 o’clock at night after you get off work.”

A difficult reality, councilmembers and survivor advocates hope the legislation helps to heal.

“If you are a public servant in the city of Cleveland that’s the least, we can do,” said Howse. “To show up for you, as you show up every single day for residents in the city of Cleveland.”

The emergency ordinance applies to non-union city employees. The legislation is the result of a working group formed in 2019 to study the issue and find solutions.

City council intends for union workers to also be covered under the policy through union negotiations with city leadership.