An estimated 28,000 people experience domestic violence in Multnomah County each year, said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, this morning, announcing the city's acceptance of a $300,000 federal grant to open a new one-stop domestic violence center in East Portland, in february 2010.
"Currently in the Portland area, resources are scattered. Victims of domestic violence, often with kids in tow, must travel to different locations, and this makes for an overwhelming, time-consuming, difficult to navigate process," said Saltzman.
The new facility, at 102nd and East Burnside, will have a receptionist behind bullet-proof glass, and a security guard on duty at all times. The city contributed money in last year's budget toward the center, and Multnomah County has donated a lease on the building.
There will be trained advocates on duty. "Our center will have a victim-centered philosophy," said the manager, this morning. "Meaning we won't tell people what services they need but listen to them."
There are forty similar centers across the country, which have opened since 2001. The center will also provide an access point for restraining orders. "The only place you can get a restraining order right now is the courthouse," said the manager. "And victims have said they don't feel comfortable going down there because their abusers can trap them there."
This is domestic violence awareness month, and County Commissioner Jeff Cogen said it's important to raise awareness of that, because "it wasn't long ago that domestic violence wasn't something you would discuss in polite company."
Deputy District Attorney Rod Underhill said many of the murder scenes he has visited over the years have been domestic violence related. "When the dust would settle and we would move on from those scenes, we would talk about what were the gaps, that allowed these things to happen? What can we do to make it so that we don't have people respond to those crime scenes and go through that process?" "It wasn't through a lack of energy, or desire, or motivation, but through a lack of resources," Underhill continued.
"Knowing about the one-stop center would have given me a safe, non-judging environment to learn about services available," said Terri Doyle, a survivor of domestic violence. "The center would have let me know that my emotions, fears, and confusions were normal, but most of all the center would have let me know that I was not alone." "It could have given me the strength to not stay, or continue returning." "Just knowing about the center and being able to participate on the task force has changed my life."
There will also be facilities for children at the center. There are kids in two thirds of situations where domestic violence is occurring. A child places the 9-11 call in 10 percent of cases.
"I'm going today to hopefully go and get a restraining order on the person that I'm with, because I'm tired," said one woman, testifying at the end of the hearing. She drew wide eyes around the council chamber. It was a remarkable moment.