Tag Archives: domestic violence

Surviviors’ stories: Three women reflect on what it means to escape domestic violence

By Alex Zielinski, Staff Writer

Statistics can carry a lot of weight. Like the fact that nationally, one in every four women will be the victim of domestic violence. And the fact that such violence takes lives, destroys families and costs the nation billion in health care costs and lost wages. In Oregon, annually, 18 people die each year from domestic violence, including men, women and children.

When the Gateway Center for Domestic Violence opened its doors in September 2010, it was intended as a one-stop hub for both victims of domestic violence and their families. A collaboration between the city of Portland, Multnomah County, and public and private agencies, the center has quickly become a crucial refuge for families across the county seeking escape and guidance. From helping victims file for restraining orders to leading teen therapy sessions, Gateway has left a resounding impact on its clientele.

Even what all we know today about domestic violence, it remains one of the most under reported crimes in the nation. But for as many victims who walk into Gateway, survivors walk out. To commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Street Roots spoke with three survivors about their journey to move beyond the violence they experienced. Continue reading

The full four-part series on domestic abuse: Gravity of Abuse

Photo by Kate Baldwin

“The gravity of abuse: The personal toll of domestic abuse,”  grew out of a three-month 2010 Seattle University fellowship to study family homelessness in Washington state. The fellowship was funded by the Gates Foundation. All quotes, thoughts and feelings of individuals stem from interviews, personal correspondence, police reports and court documents. Research for the series lasted 22 months.

Part I: The gravity of abuse

Part II: Neighborhood Watch

Park III: No contact

Part IV: Three strikes

Good news, bad news in the war against domestic violence

By Greg Stewart, Contributing Columnist

There is a disproportionately large and vastly underestimated impact of domestic violence on public safety.

Just how widespread is the impact of domestic violence?  First, the bad news: In 2001 domestic violence accounted 48 percent, nearly half, of all reported assaults in the city of Portland. Think about that. In 2001, if you were assaulted in this city there were basically equal odds that a family member or intimate partner was responsible. Even in the most serious assaults, termed aggravated assaults, 34 percent were related to domestic violence.  Homicides? In most years about a quarter of all homicides are related to domestic violence. Continue reading

The gravity of abuse: Part III: No contact

All photos by Kate Baldwinw

The third in our series on one family’s struggle to survive domestic violence. Read the first two in the series here.

By Rosette Royale, Street News Service

Safe house

What if no one showed up?

In early October 2009, Brandy Sweeney stood outside a grocery store in an unfamiliar neighborhood, her belongings gathered around her feet, her three-day-old son cradled in her arms. Someone was supposed to meet her there and drive her to a safe place, but the person hadn’t arrived. So she waited. Two minutes, three minutes, four. Continue reading

Part 1: The gravity of abuse: The complex personal toll of domestic abuse

Brandy and child. Photo by Kate Baldwin

By Rosette Royale, Contributing Writer

Anywhere. He could be anywhere.

Around the corner of the apartment building where they live. Across the street at the construction site where he works. At the nearby bar where he sometimes goes for a beer. She looks around, nervous. What if he sees her?

But she can’t wait. Not anymore. She tightens her grip on the baby stroller and heads off into the night.

She has a plan: make it three blocks, to the shelter for women and children. Borrow someone’s cell phone, call 911. She tried to dial the number back at the apartment, but he yanked the phone out of her hands and broke it to pieces.

She zooms the stroller down the sidewalk of South Othello Street, heading west toward Martin Luther King Jr. Way South, a busy intersection in a diverse, yet gentrifying, south Seattle neighborhood. On her right, an abandoned lot and taco truck, on her left, an unfinished luxury apartment complex. By this time of evening, heading on midnight, hardly a car drives by. The light rail station sits empty. She’s all alone.

Except for her son. Their son. Tomorrow he’ll turn seven months old. About 90 minutes ago, shortly after the yelling and screaming drew her neighbors into the hallway, the child cried while she splashed water on her face in the bathroom of Apartment 21. Now he sits in his stroller, bundled up in a blue, fuzzy snowsuit.
In a rush, she forgot to grab her own coat. Not that she minds. She barely feels the chilly spring air rushing over the red mark on her throat. Continue reading

Domestic violence: A zero-possibility addiction

by Julie McCurdy, Contributing Columnist

Looking back, I was addicted to possibilities. I think that kept me locked into a 32-year-long pattern of domestic violence. The names of my partners and a listing of their sins seems far less important to me than unraveling my part in this hideous slide show of bruises, broken promises, and ever-increasing humiliations.

Why do I say that? Because I have spent the better part of the last six months trying to figure out why this keeps coming up in my life, and why I thought it was OK to model this to the people who loved me. Asking someone who loves you to stand with you while someone puts you in bruises is as abusive as getting the bruises, in my opinion. Continue reading

Police to get DV crisis advocates to assist in evening, weekend calls

By Joanne Zuhl

On its first meeting in what is Domestic Violence Awareness month, Portland stepped up its game by funding a new program to have domestic violence advocates work alongside the police on evenings and weekends.

Domestic violence accounts for about 5,000 calls to the Portland Police Bureau each year, the majority coming on evening and weekend hours when other services are closed. Under the one-year pilot project, two full-time crisis response advocates will partner with officers responding to those calls to provide safety planning and resources to victims.

This morning the City Council voted unanimously to dedicate $41,720 to the joint project with Multnomah County, which is contributing more than $83,000 in federal grant funding.

“We know in the District Attorney’s Office that the best practice is going to be hands-on at the front of the case,” said Rod Underhill, Multnomah County chief deputy district attorney, who testified at the council meeting. “We gather more evidence, we gather more trust and we gather more support. The involvement at that front end is a critical stage.”

The ordinance comes on the receipt of the first-year figures from The Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services, which opened in September 2010, the first of its kind in the county. The center, located at 103rd Avenue and East Burnside, received more than 2,000 participants seeking assistance in more than 4,500 visits.

The Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services

With 19 partners from health, legal and housing services, the one-stop center provides a comprehensive spectrum of options for someone seeking help escaping domestic violence. In its first year, center staff facilitated the filing of 557 restraining order applications, in 15 languages. And it is the only location in Multnomah County where petitioners can teleconference with a judge to have their restraining order approved by the court.

The center also provides childcare for parents while they receive consultation and assistance.

“This city-county collaboration that got the idea off the ground is a reflection of our shared commitment to address the epidemic of domestic violence in our community,” said Jeff Cogen, addressing the council. “While crime in general has been declining, domestic violence is an exception to that, and the incidences have been increasing.”

Continue reading

East Portland’s violent little secret: A special report on the alarming rate of domestic violence in the city’s least served communities

By Anthony Schick, Contributing writer

Maria spent one week in Portland with her abuser. Her husband, who had controlled her psychologically, financially and physically for the past four years tricked her into leaving their California home together. He told her he had friends in Portland. He didn’t. He told her he wanted to leave problems behind and start a new life together. Then he struck her and their daughter within days of arriving. Then he was gone, back to California, and she didn’t follow. Maria found herself alone and abused with two children in a foreign city.

“He brought me here by deceiving me,” Maria said through a translator. She wished not to reveal her full identity for personal safety. “He had another woman in California. His ‘idea’ was for him to end the other relationship and move to Portland. But the way I understand it, he got rid of us so he could start a life with the other woman.”

Eight years later, Maria recalled that through support groups at El Programa Hispano and Human Solutions, she realized how far back the abuse went. First came the verbal abuse, usually after he drank and used drugs – crystal meth on at least one occasion. Then came the blows. Through those support groups, Maria also noticed similarities to her childhood and the real reason she wanted her abuser out of her life.

As a child, both Maria’s parents physically abused her. She was also sexually abused. She witnessed her father holding a knife over her mother  (an incident all survived thanks to her uncle’s intervention). And Maria’s father, like her husband years later, withheld money from his family to fund an alcohol addiction and an extramarital affair.

“I didn’t want my children to have the life I had,” she said.

So Maria began a new life in Northeast Portland with her two children, where they shared a house with another family, and the three slept in the corner of a living room. Welfare helped them scrape by until she found a job that allowed them to find a new, safer home.

Maria accessed permanent shelter and services soon after leaving her abuser; many don’t. Despite a declining number in Portland’s reported domestic violence incidents in the past three years, shelters are becoming more crowded. Access to shelter and other resources remains most difficult in East Portland, which is at once the location of 40 percent of all domestic violence incidents, the city’s most populous precinct and the Police Bureau’s family services division. Continue reading

Extra! Extra!

Squeeze the most out of the final weekends of summer with a few moments in the sun and a good local read! Look no further than the latest edition of Street Roots and your friendly neighborhood vendor. Here’s what’s inside:

The bigger pitch of Scot Thompson: An interview with the Portland Timbers’ star, and now community ambassador, by former soccer pro and author Jules Boykoff.

East Portland’s violent little secret: A special report by Anthony Schick on the alarming rate of domestic violence in the city’s least served communities.

Living for two: Pregnancy among homeless teens is rising, alarming providers. Amanda Waldroupe reports on how service providers are responding to the troubling increase and what it means for youths on the streets.

Believers brew: An interview with author Adam Elenbaas, who drank a psychedelic herbal mixture called ayahuasca and gained a new vision on life. “It’s like mud mixed with battery acid and pee.” Now there’s a vision.

Plus, insights from housing authority Heather Lyons and homeless advocate Leo Rhodes, plus news, poetry and more. So much to read you’ll need the extra holiday this weekend to take it all in. Thank you, readers!