A ring of 52 luminarias encircled the crowd, each candle representing one of the women and children (and three pets) killed in the past year by abusers. Counting abusers, who sometimes kill themselves in murder suicides, the death toll for domestic violence in the state is 70 people.
The Portland Lesbian Choir sang a somber French lullaby in the rain before domestic violence survivor Tracy told her tearful story about escaping abuse and becoming an advocate at women's shelter Raphael House trying to help other women get their lives restarted. "I often come across waiting lists a year long," said Tracy. "One reason people go back to their abusers is there is no affordable housing." The PWCL has to tell 60 percent of women in crisis that no shelter space is open.
"What are we as a community doing wrong?" asked PWCL Executive Director Rebecca Nickels. "We're not supporting survivors in the most basic ways. If someone tells you about experiencing personal violence, tell them you believe then and that they are a person of value."
The Portland Mercury annual charity auction this year will benefit Raphael House, stay tuned for it in December and bid generously.