Originally from Canton, Ohio, Merisa attended the University of Cincinnati where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree with departmental honors in Political Science with a Certificate in International Human Rights. In 2009, she graduated from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland with a Juris Doctor cum laude. Merisa then established her law practice in Cincinnati before relocating to Columbus in 2012. In 2014, Merisa was appointed to serve a three-year term as a Commissioner for the City of Columbus’ Community Relations Commission. Her professional memberships include the Ohio State Bar Association (LGBT Diversity & Inclusion Conference Committee; Family Law Committee; Criminal Justice Committee), the Columbus Bar Association (LGBT Committee Co-Chair 2013-2015; Family Law Committee), the Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Central Ohio Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (Secretary 2014-2015, President 2016-2017), and The National LGBT Bar Association and Family Law Institute. In 2013, Merisa co-founded Bi Local, an affinity organization of Equality Ohio, which advocates and promotes visibility for the bisexual/pansexual/queer community of Central Ohio. In August 2015, Merisa was a panelist at the National LGBT Bar Association’s Lavender Law Conference in Chicago, IL, where she presented on representing bisexual clients.
Presentation: Violence, Consent, and Bisexuality
Time: Breakout Session 2
While rates of intimate partner violence, rape, and sexual assault are higher among LGBT populations, they are especially high among bisexual youth and adults. A 2013 CDC report found that 61.1% of bisexual women and 37% of bisexual men reported experiencing rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This presentation will address the prevalence of intimate partner violence, rape, and sexual assault experienced by people who identify or behave as bisexual; the contributions of biphobia and bi-erasure to this violence; and how community service providers, healthcare providers, and government organizations can address and reduce violence against the bisexual community. The presentation will also include education and discussion on how members of the bisexual community and LGBTQ community at large can contribute to consent culture, risk identification, and communal social support.
1. Raise awareness of the disparity of impact of intimate partner violence, rape, and sexual assault on the bisexual community
2. Educate members of the bisexual community and LGBTQ community at large on consent, risk identification, and communal social support.
3. Give attendees an important opportunity to talk about the issue of intimate partner violence, rape, and sexual assault with each other.