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Domestic Violence in OR: Needs Increase, Donations Drop

March 11, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - Almost two-thirds of Oregon domestic violence programs participated in a recent National Census of Domestic Violence Services, counting how much and what types of assistance they provided in a single 24-hour period.
Results released this week find that in a single day, almost 600 Oregonians were in emergency shelters or transitional housing, more than 700 received other types of services, and 458 hotline calls were answered.

Kerry Naughton, crime survivors program director for the Partnership for Safety and Justice, says the most sobering statistic may be that 277 people did not get the help they asked for due to a lack of staff and money.

"Forty-five percent of the programs in Oregon reported that they don't have enough funding - and unfortunately, because of this funding shortage, women and children who are trying to flee abuse are often forced to return to, or remain in, dangerous situations, or they face homelessness."

Naughton says domestic violence program directors also reported shortages of basics, like diapers and baby food. Her group's Web site has a statewide list of shelters' needs for those who want to donate at www.SafetyAndJustice.org.

Programs provide more than emergency shelter, says Naughton. They offer counseling, help families find housing and benefits, and go with them to court if necessary. She says the need for all those services has increased.

"It's really important to understand that the bad economy does not cause domestic violence, although it does certainly mean that victims have fewer resources - as well as domestic violence programs, sadly, also have fewer resources to serve survivors."

One-third of the programs surveyed reported their shelters were full and there was no funding available to send families to hotels. Naughton says even when that is the case, hotline staff can help people find alternatives or make emergency plans. The toll-free national domestic violence hotline is 800-799-SAFE. The Domestic Violence Counts survey is online at www.nnedv.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR