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OR’s Domestic Violence Survivors Protest Service Cuts

April 29, 2009

Salem, OR – Oregon women are ending this Sexual Assault Awareness Month on the statehouse steps in Salem, asking lawmakers to not cut too deeply into the $4.5 million Oregon Domestic & Sexual Violence Services (ODSVS) budget that helps to support about 50 shelters for women and children leaving abusive situations.

The rally by survivors of domestic violence, and the people who make up their safety net in Oregon, is to remind lawmakers that they need every bit of funding the state can provide. In the most recent one-day survey, taken last fall, almost 1,300 Oregonians sought emergency services for domestic violence or sexual abuse, and the same day, more than 300 were turned away from a network that's already overloaded.

Sarabeth Labberton, advocate with the Mid-Valley Women's Crisis Center, says the state of the economy is partly to blame.

"With cuts to housing programs, and it being harder for people to find jobs as well, they're working even harder to become self-sufficient; so they're needing to stay in our shelter for a longer amount of time."

According to Labberton, most women's shelters run on a combination of state funding and donations, and all say they'll have to cut staff or services if the state money is reduced.

Women who have used these services, as well as shelter employees and volunteers, also are writing postcards to lawmakers. Kerry Naughton, crime survivors' program director with the Partnership for Safety and Justice, says they're asking to be spared from what might be a 30 percent funding cut.

"It is already severely under-funded. It's a small pool of money to begin with, and cuts here are going to actually cause the state to spend even more money in other areas.""

Naughton says the postcards will be delivered mid-May, as a follow-up to today's rally, which takes place at noon on the statehouse front steps.

Statistics and postcard campaign information are at

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR