We needn’t feel helpless against domestic violence

By Erika Weisensee
Milwaukie writing mom,

Domestic violence deaths continue in Oregon at an alarming rate. In December, Chiquita Rollins, the Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordinator, wrote a message on her office’s website (www.multco.us/portal/site/dv/), reporting that within one month’s time Oregon had seventeen domestic violence related deaths.  The very latest domestic violence casualties happened in Gresham about a week ago. A sheriff’s sergeant shot and killed his estranged wife and her friend, and critically injured another woman, before turning the gun on himself. Tragedies like this cause many people to wonder, “What can I do about domestic violence?”

Here are some suggestions:

– If you know someone experiencing domestic violence, refer victims to the national confidential domestic violence hotline (1-800-799-SAFE). Also, you could help victims locate a service near them. For a list of Oregon domestic violence agencies, visit http://www.dhs.state.or.us/abuse/domestic/gethelp.htm. Be sure to caution victims about doing research from home computers or any devices (cell phones, etc.) that could be tracked by the abuser.

– Be supportive. When talking with victims of abuse, the Oregon Department of Human Services suggests saying three simple things: “You deserve to be safe. This is not your fault. There is help available.”

– Get involved with your local domestic violence program. Contact a program near you, find out about the work they are doing, and find out how you can help.

– Write to your Congressional representatives, asking for their support of domestic violence legislation. Earlier this month, the International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House with bi-partisan support. You can learn more about the bill at the websites of the Family Violence Prevention Fund (www.endabuse.org) or Amnesty International (www.amnesty.usa.org).

Erika Weisensee, a writer and native Oregonian, lives in Milwaukie and teaches journalism and communication courses at the University of Portland.

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