Both Portland City Council and the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners approved funds last week to open a new one-stop domestic violence center in East Portland, hopefully by next February. A shocking 28,000 people experience domestic violence in Multnomah County each year, said City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, announcing the city's acceptance of a $300,000 federal grant on Wednesday, October 21.
"Currently in the Portland area, resources are scattered," he said. "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."
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. Since 2001, 40 similar centers have opened across the country. The center will also provide an access point for restraining orders.
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 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-judgmental 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."
There will also be facilities for children at the center—kids are present in two-thirds of reported domestic violence cases, and 10 percent of the time a child places the 9-11 call for help.
The statistics associated with the new center are shocking, but I couldn't help wondering what's taken us so long? If we were told two years ago, for example, that a something was attacking 28,000 people a year in this county, wouldn't we have allocated millions of dollars to fight the problem? I'm not against the center—merely saddened that it's taken us so long to get this far.