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Meet the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Through this regular feature, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) will be introducing you to our member coalitions.

This month, meet the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence:

What is it like to do domestic violence work in Oregon? What makes it rewarding, challenging, interesting, etc.? 

We feel especially fortunate here in Oregon to be building meaningful relationships between the community-based advocacy field and numerous other systems. Collaboration has made advocacy services available in community health clinics, DHS child welfare and self-sufficiency offices, Family Justice Centers, and elsewhere. In addition to the federal VAWA, VOCA, and FVPSA funding streams, the state of Oregon provides its own grant funding to direct service advocacy programs through the Oregon Domestic and Sexual Violence Services Fund (ODSVS). We are also proud of the work culturally-specific and tribal programs are doing to help ensure that support and resources are available to marginalized communities, and we’re working to expand the reach of culturally-specific services to communities statewide.

What impact does your unique Oregon context have on this work?

Spanning over 98,000 square miles, Oregon’s vast landscape includes the densely populated Portland metropolitan area, smaller cities along the Interstate 5 and 84 corridors, numerous rural towns, and several geographically isolated frontier communities east of the Cascade Mountains. Accordingly, community needs, available resources, and service provision models look very different across the state.

The Pacific Northwest also has an often-unrecognized history of racism and white supremacy that deeply affects communities of color, particularly Black and undocumented communities, to this day. Culturally-specific programs are vital to meeting the needs of marginalized groups in this context — and the Oregon Coalition also does a lot of anti-oppression and anti-racism work with our mainstream member programs, striving to set them up for success in best serving people impacted by racism, ethnocentrism, and other forms of racialized oppression.

What are the biggest barriers that survivors face in Oregon?

Oregon is a very diverse state; we are home to nine federally recognized tribal nations as well as survivors from diverse geographic settings, nations of origin, and ethnicities. Each community and each survivor in Oregon confronts unique barriers. Yet there are challenges that we have in common; lack of affordable housing and also a lack of housing in general. While urban areas are facing a lack of affordable housing, most of the rural areas of Oregon are facing a shortage of available housing (of any variety). A lack of living wage jobs is an added challenge for survivors, as Oregon workers earned an estimated annual average of $48,000 (below the national average). Many advocates report that survivors (especially transgender, people of color, and elderly survivors) often earn much less. This has resulted in underemployed survivors with very limited resources.

What’s happening in Oregon that you’re excited about? Proud of?

Over the past four years, the state of Oregon and Futures Without Violence funded the Oregon Coalition and several local advocacy programs to improve access and collaborative services for victims of intimate partner violence who are pregnant and newly parenting by engaging and partnering with child welfare, public health, and local healthcare systems. Despite the formal conclusion of the grant cycle, the state of Oregon and several local advocacy programs are continuing to cultivate these cross-system partnerships to improve collaboration between community-based advocates and healthcare systems. We are excited to continue supporting our member programs and their healthcare system partners in providing better, more accessible services to individuals and families experiencing domestic violence.

This year, the Oregon Coalition launched a first-of-its-kind “Prevention Through Liberation” grant program, supporting culturally-specific violence prevention activities rooted in anti-oppressive practices. We’re also very pleased that our anti-oppression train-the-trainer curriculum and workshop continues to provide advocates and community partners across the state (and even the country!) the knowledge, skills, and practical applications to interrupt oppressive behaviors and systems.

Finally, we are in the midst of planning a statewide flexible fund, which will provide cash grants to survivors for housing, transportation, childcare, medical care, and other expenses associated with fleeing abuse.

Are there any champions in Oregon that whom you’d like to thank or celebrate for their record or work on domestic violence?

We feel very fortunate that many of our state leaders are supportive of our work in both word and deed. Ellen Rosenblum, Oregon’s attorney general, has championed crime victims’ rights throughout her tenure at the Department of Justice, particularly with regard to domestic and sexual violence survivors. Additionally, Governor Kate Brown, Oregon’s second-ever female governor and our nation’s first openly bisexual governor, has publicly disclosed that she is also a survivor of domestic violence and continues to advance measures and initiatives promoting anti-violence and equity.

Pastor Cliff Chappell leads the St. Johns All Nations Church of God in Christ in Portland, Oregon, and continues to be an active voice in ending domestic violence within his congregation and throughout the community. He has been a member of our Communities of Color Task Force, co-led our A CALL TO MEN work, and founded the Man-Up Program, a faith-based initiative for young Black men to confront toxic masculinity. Pastor Chappell is currently a member of the Portland Police Bureau Gang Violence Task Force, holds several positions in his denomination’s regional leadership, and serves on the Board of Trustees at Multnomah University.

How is OCADSV working to end domestic violence?

We continue to center our work in feminist principles and a belief in the right of all persons to live their lives without fear, abuse, oppression, and violence. Our approach calls on us to expand the vision of what safety looks like. Through expert advice, training, and leadership to our member programs, we combine the historical wisdom of our field with innovative new ideas and challenge one-size-fits-all approaches to preventing and ending violence.

If OCADSV was a musician or music group, who would you be and why?

 If the Oregon Coalition was a musician or music group, it would be session drummer/percussionist Alex Acuña. Alex has played with Weather Report, Lee Ritenour, Minnie Riperton, Roy Orbison, Ella Fitzgerald, Los Lobos, and Chick Corea, to name a few. Though he isn’t the most recognized name. Alex is known for being a rock and enforcer of the groove, setting the pace, and creating a space in which the other members can rest or soar.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? Anything we didn’t ask that you’d like to share?

Thanks for taking the time to learn more about us! We’re thrilled to be featured by the National Network to End Domestic Violence and look forward to reading about our sister coalitions here in the future.

Learn more about OCADSV: 

Website: OCADSV.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oregoncoalition/

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/ocadsv


Read the rest of our Meet A Coalition features here.