Primary Prevention Q&A

SARC’s Primary Prevention & Education Manager, Jenna Harper, answers questions about sexual violence and prevention. This is just one of our programs we feel is so critical and paramount to helping to change the culture to help end sexual violence.

Q: How do we prevent sexual violence? 

JH: This question is one most of us have asked, whether we have experienced sexual violence, care about someone who has, or work in the field.  Although many have tried to solve the issue by telling people, mainly women, to carry pepper spray, cut their hair, or avoid walking home alone at night, those strategies have not affected rates of sexual assault.  In order to tackle the question of prevention, we must look at the root causes of sexual violence in our society.

Q: What causes sexual violence?

JH: There are many root causes of sexual violence. I’ll talk briefly about just one: oppression.

Anyone can be assaulted, but research shows us that all people don’t experience sexual violence equally. It is generally assumed that women experience sexual assault most often. But other identities like people of color, people with disabilities, and/or transgender people also experience higher rates of targeting. Reducing someone to one identity, like their womanhood, doesn’t give us a full picture. For example, 19% of white women experience rape, 22% of black women, and 33.5% of multiracial. While 35% of heterosexual women experience rape, physical violence, stalking by an intimate partner, the rate jumps to 61% of bisexual women. Bisexual men’s prevalence rate is 37%, which is 8% higher than heterosexual men (NISVS, 2011). Oppression is a root cause of sexual violence. Or as a colleague of mine would say, in our society, we put different values on different people’s bodies.

Other root causes include things like unhealthy norms promoted through media, male sexual entitlement, and more.

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Q: What is Primary Prevention?

JH: Primary Prevention is the belief that in order to end sexual violence we need to focus on perpetrators and try to prevent them from ever perpetrating in the first place.

Through the critical examination of the unhealthy norms in our society and promotion of healthy norms, we seek to create a culture in our communities that values healthy relationships and sexuality.

Our prevention curricula are linked to state and federal health standards, and are based on literature reviews and best practices. They fulfill required Oregon educational components, as legislated by both Erin’s Law and The Healthy Teen Relationship Act. The curricula are regularly updated with the intention of staying timely, expanding on relevant topics, and improving participant outcomes. The sessions are highly activity-based and encourage students in the room to contribute based on their own knowledge, cultures, and experiences.

Q: What do we do when we know the root causes of sexual violence?

JH: We need to work to end oppression of all forms including sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and so on, so that people do not use sexual violence as a form of control to keep others disempowered. We need to talk to each other about what healthy relationships and healthy sexuality looks like, including consent, equity, respect, trust, and safety. With that knowledge and those dialogues, we can begin to hold our communities more accountable to the higher standards we set. Our prevention program takes this education into the classroom.

 

If you are interested in learning more about our curriculum, volunteering to teach, purchasing our curriculum, and/or participating in a ‘Train the Trainer’ course, please contact jennah[at]sarcoregon.org.

How do we hold Charlottesville in a larger context?

It has been almost three weeks since the white supremacist acts of terrorism in Charlottesville, VA. We are still angered, saddened, afraid, and exhausted, but not surprised. Mostly because events like Neo-Nazi marches in Virginia have been happening across the country, including in Oregon, for a long time.

Surprise at Charlottesville suggests that violent acts of racism, anti-Semitism, and islamophobia (just to name a few) are new in the United States. In reality, our history is filled with the stories of Emmett Till, Craig Anderson, Philando Castille, and so many more who deserve to be named.

These news stories are usually treated as horrifying individual incidents. As a culture, at first we react strongly, but after several weeks we grow ambivalent, especially if we think we are not personally affected. In reality, incidents of hatred and prejudice are all connected. Woven together, they create the larger fabric of our society. We cannot separate white supremacist attacks in Virginia from the 18 murders of transgender people over the last eight months. In the same way that we cannot separate the Portland MAX attack from the acts of sexual violence perpetrated every day in our country.

At their core, these actions dehumanize people who are usually already marginalized by our society. They inflate and protect the power of the perpetrators of violence. They reinforce the dynamics of power and control that have been at play since our nation’s founding, and before.

To those in our communities who continue to feel threatened by these events, we want to say that we hear you, and that we are here to support you.

Actively working against violence and bigotry should be a priority for every person. We all have the opportunity to influence change. To those who don’t feel like these issues impact them, we want to show you that they do. They impact your neighbors, community members, friends, and friends of friends. They impact children, who look towards adults to learn their self worth and how to interact with the world around them. They impact all of us in ways we cannot necessarily see or feel.

These stories don’t just happen on the news. Prejudices exist around us every day. The more we interrupt oppression in our daily lives, the more accountable we hold people in our communities to the value of humanity and the demand for universal human rights.

Taking action takes courage and humility. If you want to get involved but are not sure where to start, here are some suggestions how:

June Spotlight: Fair Housing Council Bus Tour

In May, SARC staff participated in the Fair Housing Council Bus Tour of Portland: Fasten Your Seat Belts…It’s Been A Bumpy Ride. Over the four-hour journey, the guides explore how Oregon’s history of social and political discrimination impacts our communities today. Oregon’s viciously racist history is often easy to ignore, especially when we do not have representations of our past confronting us regularly in our present.

The City of Vanport, aptly named for sitting neatly between Portland and Vancouver, led the Oregon in racial integration. Hastily constructed to house laborers flocking from other parts of the country to work in Oregon shipyards, Vanport was home to integrated schools, grocery stores, a fire department, a college, and more. Though imperfect, the Vanport community existed in stark contrast to the rest of the state, steeped in violent roots of social, cultural, and political racism.

On May 30, 1948, a flood decimated Vanport, displacing 40,000 people (40% of whom were black), while public officials remained largely unresponsive. The city was never reconstructed, and 40,000 people never went home. Today, tucked quietly off the road leading into what was formerly Vanport stands an information board about the cities history. And a golf course.

Those who ride the MAX to the Portland Expo Center may notice the beautiful traditional Japanese-inspired gates on the boarders of the parking lot. Many don’t see the gates at all. Some who do see the gates remain unaware of their purpose as a memorial for the over 3,600 Japanese Americans incarcerated in Portland’s concentration camp during World War II. Before the Expo Center, the land was used for animal corrals. Almost overnight, the corrals were turned into barracks, as Japanese families, children, and adults were forced into the camp. Portland became the first city to fully incarcerate its entire Japanese population, and boasted about its accomplishment nationally.

The list could go on and on with examples. The take-away is that for those with privilege, for many of us on that bus, and for many of us who do this work, it can still be too easy to be surprised, and can feel too comfortable to believe our history is not shaping our present.

Fair Housing Council battles the effects of that history daily. If you are interested in fighting housing discrimination in Portland, see what you can do to help.

Showing Up For Pride

June is Pride month for LGBTQIA+ communities and allies!

Vibrant celebrations, parades, dance parties, and rainbow tutus can be joyous celebrations of queer communities. At the same time, corporate sponsorships and commercial exploitation can often render large-scale Pride events void of the activism and resilience that started Pride in the first place. Events like the Stonewall Rebellion, often led by queer people of color responding to police brutality, raids of queer spaces, and general injustice and prejudice.

That injustice and prejudice continues through today. We honored the one-year anniversary of the Orlando Pulse attack. Every day at SARC we are aware that sexual violence against and within queer communities presents unique barriers to accessing services, healing, and justice.

The Center for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner Sexual Violence Survey gathered data on sexual violence against LGBTQ individuals. Unsurprisingly, trans women of color experience higher rates of sexual violence, often as early as childhood. Similarly, bisexual women and men face alarmingly higher rates of sexual violence and intimate partner violence. These are just some findings that reflect the reality of sexual violence against queer individuals.

So while SARC celebrates Pride with joy and determined optimism, we also recognize the inequities queer communities face on a daily basis. As an agency, our staff and volunteers are both members and allies of these communities. Our services reflect that. We stand by LGBTQIA+ survivors every day, providing space that is welcoming, safe, and empowering.

If you or someone you know if seeking services following a sexual assault, call our support line, 503-640-5311, or visit our Services webpage.

Promoting Advocacy for Survivors – Senate Bill 795

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Steps are being taken to ensure survivors of sexual violence are provided advocacy services when receiving medical attention following an assault.

On April 25th, Senate Bill 795 passed the Oregon Senate 29-0. The bill would oblige medical staff and law enforcement to contact an advocate when survivors of sexual assault seek medical services. The bill would reinforce best practices, allowing advocates to introduce their services to survivors, and giving survivors the choice to have an advocate present, or not.

The bill reads:

“Requires medical assessment provider or law enforcement officer to contact victim advocate and make reasonable efforts to ensure that victim advocate is present and available at medical facility.”

Seeking services following an assault or undergoing a Sexual Assault Forensic Exam can be extremely difficult. It takes incredible strength to go through a process that is often both emotionally and physically invasive. Victim advocates are trained to provide confidential emotional support, validation, information, and options to survivors, to help them navigate that experience.

In a culture where the importance of emotional welfare and trauma-informed response still struggles to gain widespread popularity and acceptance, laws like SB 795 are immensely important. While reactions like blame, shame, invalidation, and lack of support actually increase trauma for survivors, it should be no surprise that interfacing with empathetic, trauma-informed services can help mitigate the negative effects of trauma. Yet, advocacy response is still not standard, particularly outside of larger metro areas, such as Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties.

In Washington County, SARC has a growing community of volunteer advocates who are compassionate, kind, and ready to provide support and resources. Advocacy services similar to SARC exist throughout the state. Our work, together with many sexual assault and domestic violence agencies, continues to push for an end to sexual violence. Supporting bills such as SB 795 directly influences that mission.

So, what can you do?

Call your House Representatives and show your support for this bill. Ask them if they plan to vote “yes.” Let your elected representatives know how this bill impacts you or others.
Then call your Senators and thank them for voting “yes.”
Support the Oregon Sexual Assault Task Force, for helping create and promote legislation that supports survivors.

> Track the progress of SB 795

Contact your Oregon State House & Senate elected officials using the links below:
> Oregon State Representatives
> Oregon State Senators

Want to Become an advocate? Please see our application.

Photo credit: @Jasperdo, Flickr

40th Ruby Anniversary Fundraiser

40th Ruby Anniversary Fundraiser

It’s been a couple years since we’ve held a fundraiser and this year we wanted to do something special and impactful as much as possible to raise awareness and funds for SARC. We also wanted to act sooner than later because of the political and social climate we find ourselves in and because we know that SARC is losing funding, we just don’t know the extent yet. With a lot at stake for our vulnerable communities, there has been so much momentum in the social justice movements and awareness raising since election day; we certainly are no exception.

This year’s fundraiser marks SARC’s 40th Anniversary operating as a support agency for survivors of sexual assault and their loved ones first and foremost. Since its inception in 1977, it has expanded to cover anti-trafficking programs and prevention education. We’re highlighting this occasion occurring at the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). The color for a 40th anniversary is ruby red, and what better theme than to have it be our ‘Ruby Anniversary Fundraiser’? We’re carrying through the red color of solidarity and invite you to wear your red out to the fundraiser.

We’ve been hard at work planning and the event is coming up this week! We wanted to be sure to thank and highlight our sponsors and donors and share the silent auction and raffle item details here. You can track updates on our other social media channels like the Facebook event page, Twitter, and Instagram, please see other posts and information there.

Listen for us to be featured on XRAY.FM’s show, ‘The Non Profit Hour’, Tuesday, airing at 1:00PM, and re-airing the following Monday morning, 6:00AM. A few of us went in to record this interview hosted by Phil Busse of the NPH show. Recording will also be available as a podcast.

Date: April 27, Thursday
Time: 5 – 8:00pm
Venue: Ecotrust
Program Schedule:
5:00 – DJ Mr. Mumu, open mingling, snacks, drinks, networking
5:45 – kick-off intro
6:00 – DJ, open, donation highlights
6:15 – Get to know SARC & Staff
7:00 – Pull a few tix
7:05 – Executive Dir., Erin Ellis
7:30 – Moody Little Sister
7:50 – Pull all tix; wrap; hand-off prizes

The silent auction will go through the end of the evening and we’ll plan on pulling raffle tix at least a couple times. You do not have to be present to win a prize and if you elect not to purchase the auction item you bid on, it goes to the next highest bidder.

moodypicThis year, Moody Little Sister, will perform at the end of the evening for us. Naomi Hooley  and Rob Stroup form a Folk-Rock & Soul Duo out of Portland, Oregon, who have been touring and playing a lot of shows as of late. [insert pic] Community, nature, and the inward journey are the chorus line themes to most of the band’s songs. As a result they have been regarded as “social change agents” and “community creators”. Their debut record “Wild Places” is a soundtrack for anyone on a journey to be more authentically themselves.They’ve just announced an exciting move to New Mexico, so we’re lucky to have them play for us before their next adventure! Photo provided by Moody Little Sister.

DJ-Mr-MumuWe will also have a great local DJ Mr. Mumu, who plays regularly at Tilt and Valentines, to get you in the mood to donate. Lover of all types of music, he’s been working as a DJ for two decades and then some.

“I have played and can play just about every event possible…from swank black tie soirees to dark and dirty rock clubs…sometimes in the same night.”
Get ready to do some dancing while donating, while he spins only vinyl for us!

This is an annual fundraiser that we hope to grow year after year, and we are so thankful for our sponsors and all donors for this year’s event. All of the auction and raffle items have been donated by artists, businesses, friends and family in our community. Please let them know you appreciate their support of SARC the next chance you get. Photo provided by DJ Mr. Mumu.

Sponsors
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Enjoy these donated drinks and food
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We’ll have more drinks, food, and sweets for you, we’d love to see you all there!

Silent Auction and Raffle Items showing their retail value | Items 1 -9 (silent auction)

1 Blazers Print $150
2 Rodinia necklace $200
3 Dawn Kowalewski Photography (14X14) $250
4 Artistic Bliss Portraits – 11×14 $550
5 Artistic Bliss Portraits – 11×14 $550
6 Private Flight Time (2-3 people) $425
7 Beach House (2 nights) $840
8 Women’s Group Self-defense Class $1,500
9 Dunn Carney Legal Services $1,750
10 Wine – Hiram $40
11 Bluestar Donuts $50
12 Bluestar Donuts $50
13 Domaine Drouhin Wine $50
14 Wine $50
15 Wine – Hiram $60
16 Rodinia ‘PDX’ necklace $52
17 City of Portland Golf passes 2×18 holes $90
18 Widmer Brothers Beer Pack $100
19 Yoga Shala – Classes 10-pack $110
20 Laika Studios – Kubo Gift Set $125
21 Ascension Fitness (pkg w/ Dr. Ni’s) $127
22 Cleobella Dress $150
23 Aquarium Pkg $199
24 Cleobella Dress $250
25 Folly Shopping party $250
26 Eastside Distilling Party $250
27 Garden Party for 6 $300
28 Cleobella Bag $400
29 Cleobella Bag $400
30 Mexico Vacation Rental (6 nights) $2,100 *Special raffle
31 Pilates Central PDX (2 sessions) $140
32 Pilates Central PDX (2 sessions) $140
33 Andina Restaurant GC $150
34 The Bite of Oregon tix 2 $150
35 Warrior Flow – Spring Challenge $175

 

Sexual Assault Does Not Happen In A Vacuum

Sexual Assault Does Not Happen In A Vacuum

This year continues to fly by as we head into April, and with so much going on locally and nationally, it’s not surprising things are moving quickly. This month, as we honor Sexual Assault Awareness Month and celebrate SARC’s 40th anniversary, we want to continue to voice our belief that the work we do around sexual assault cannot be treated as a vacuum issue, separate and unaffected by social and political dynamics.

The list of topics swirling around public discourse in our country seems endless, including immigration, climate change, environmentalism, sexism, sexual assault, systemic racism, transphobia, white supremacy, LGBTQIA rights, and much more. Part of doing work to end sexual violence means accepting that all of these issues interact with each other on multiple levels every minute of every day. That is because as people, we each experience and view the world through a kaleidoscope of unique identities and histories. Furthermore, the systems built around us, like government, healthcare, and capitalism, impact all of those identities differently.

SARC operates with the knowledge that sexual assault can happen to anyone, but that it does not happen to everyone equally. Research shows us over and over again that sexual assaults disproportionately occur against women, people of color, LGBTQIA individuals, undocumented immigrants, the elderly, people with disabilities, women in the military, the incarcerated, and people who struggle with financial or housing insecurity. Similarly, changes in local and federal legislation have the potential to disproportionately impact the same vulnerable populations.

Healthcare & Intersectionality

When it comes to prevention, SARC knows that education is key, as is access to resources. While prevention education helps stop would-be perpetrators from ever perpetrating in the first place, access to resources helps make individuals less vulnerable to exploitation and assault, since we know perpetrators often target those who are marginalized in society. Access to employment, culturally responsive healthcare, insurance, housing, schools, and other benefits increases one’s capacity to lead a safe and healthy life. Lately, a major issue regarding access to resources is health care coverage.

Nationally, threats to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) indicate threats to the wellbeing of our community members. Under the ACA, 30 million women gained copay-free access to preventative healthcare, including contraception, domestic violence screening and counseling, postpartum support services, depression screening, and more. Members of LGBTQIA communities were guaranteed protection from discrimination based on identity, orientation, or HIV status. The expansion of Medicaid in most states increased eligibility for coverage for millions more low-income households and individuals, although significant gaps still exist in gaining coverage for all people across income brackets.

As we advocate improving rather than rolling back our federal healthcare laws, we must also look to local government to guarantee protections. House Bill 2232 was recently introduced to the Oregon legislature to provide comprehensive reproductive health care for Oregonians. The bill requires insurers in the state to cover reproductive health services including contraception, STI screenings, prenatal care, and much more. It also protects against gender identity discrimination with language that would, for example, bar insurers from refusing to cover gynecological exams for transgender or gender-nonconforming individuals.

You can track HB 2232’s status here. While we wait for it to be debated and voted on, remember you have the power to reach out to your representatives! Having affordable access and autonomy to make health decisions about our bodies is part of the fight to end sexual violence. It sends the message that all bodies are equal, that bodies have rights, that our bodies are ours.

To learn more about how healthcare impacts women in Oregon specifically, check out the Women’s Foundation of Oregon’s intersectional analysis of the issue.

Healthcare is a great example of how current national issues tie directly to SARC’s work in ways that may not always be obvious. We want to celebrate intersectionality, and be conscious of the ways it influences our work. Recognizing our blindspots with humility and actively addressing them is the only way to make sure we are serving the needs of everyone who may need us.

Identities can be complex, but the bottom line is simple: sexual violence is inexcusable and preventable. The movement to end sexual violence is all of ours. We’ll work from different approaches and perspectives to address it, but we need your help.

Resources: 
Donate >
Volunteer >
More SAAM events >
RSVP to 40th Anniversary fundraiser >

 

*Banner provided by HCAO.org

Spotlight: Volunteer Support Line Advocates

This month with recognizing Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) we also recognize three of our support line advocates who volunteer their energies, expertise and service. We can’t stress enough how important our volunteers are to the success and continuation of SARC services.

We appreciate you!

This month, meet Tina, Lua, and Yi, three of our support line advocates.

Tina Tina_April
Started at SARC: February 2015
Outside of SARC: Tina works as a CNA and does Jiu Jitsu. She plans to become a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE).

“The first thing I did when I moved back home from college, besides eat and get rest and typical kid home from college stuff, was to get in touch with SARC and apply to be an advocate. I first learned about SARC through the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, then volunteered as an advocate on the crisis line, and now I am part of the weekend on call crew. Previous SARC events showed me the philosophy and mission of SARC. I knew that when I was able to commit myself to a volunteer position of an extended period of time that it would be with SARC. I like the vulnerability I experienced with my training group, I LOVE ERIN [Ellis, SARC’s Executive Director], I like the motivation behind everything that SARC does. I like that we work with CSEC and Beaverton Police. SARC allowed me to work closely with my community and has helped me realize what profession I want to pursue.”

Lua Lua_April
Started at SARC: August 2016
Outside of SARC: Lua works in psychiatric research and spends her spare time with friends and family, playing with her two dogs, Thor and Loki, and learning songs on her ukulele with her husband.

“After moving around to pursue my education, when I finally settled in Portland I wanted to start being involved in the community. Working with SARC has been a great opportunity to help people at a time of crisis, when they might not have anyone else to offer the support they need in that moment. Aside from taking on the role of an advocate, one of my favorite things about volunteering is meeting and working with the wonderfully selfless (and overall awesome) group of ladies of SARC.”

 

Yi Yi_april
Started at SARC: February 2015
Outside of SARC: Yi works as a Domestic & Sexual Violence Case Manager supporting immigrant and refugee victims and survivors. In her spare time, she enjoys riding her bike, practicing yoga, reading books, and watching 24 and Game of Thrones with family — especially with Season 7 coming up!

“My favorite thing about volunteering in SARC is that I get to learn from and work with amazing women from all walks of life who are passionate and dedicated to support sexual violence survivors. SARC is a supportive and inclusive community that upholds practicing self- and trauma-informed care; this is reflected in its volunteer training and extensively in its crisis line advocacy. As a crisis line volunteer advocate, I often feel cared, encouraged and appreciated by SARC staff. In navigating career paths after college graduation, volunteering for the crisis line has fulfilled my desire for gaining human, direct service experiences and ultimately led me to find the job of my dreams. It’s precious to me that volunteering for SARC enables me to connect with myself and others on a meaningful and deeper level. I continue to volunteer for SARC because it has a special place of my heart.”

What will you do for SAAM?

What will you do for SAAM?

saam_type_act-educate-care

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), but SARC wants you to be more than just “aware.” This year, we organized a series of events around our action-oriented theme: “ACT. EDUCATE. CARE.”

According to Google, awareness is a “concern about and well-informed interest in a particular situation or development.” To be aware is important. It means to be continually conscious of sexual assault in our communities and how sexual violence thrives in our culture. Awareness, however, can also easily slip into passivity. Once you are “aware” of the stark reality of sexual assault, what comes next?

To be part of the movement to end sexual violence, we must use our awareness as a springboard into action. This month, SARC is offering a variety of options for people to get involved.

SAAM

We can ACT. Use our voices, bodies, and influence to share our stories as people affected by sexual violence, directly or indirectly. SARC’s philosophy reflects our knowledge that sexual assault impacts all people regardless of their gender, race, socioeconomic status, faith, immigration status, age, disability, sexual orientation, and all the other complex identities that make us human. It is our diverse experiences that make us resilient and courageous. We can write letters and make phone calls to our representatives. We can volunteer. We can interrupt sexism and other forms of oppression in the daily ways we witness and experience them.

And we can actively support our community members when they take action. Voices Against Violence on April 8th 6pm-9pm at Coyote’s Bar & Grill, is our first SAAM event, where local performers will share their music, poetry, comedy, and more to address sexual violence through their art.

We can EDUCATE. Misinformation and ignorance surrounding the dynamics of sexual assault abound. SARC believes in educating from a place of humility. We believe in calling in rather than calling out. All of us have the ability to educate those around us. By pointing out the normalization of sexual violence in our media. By challenging victim-blaming or perpetrator-sympathetic comments in the news and within our communities. By engaging in primary prevention, working with youth to define and model what healthy sexuality, consent, and healthy relationships look like.

And we can actively continue to educate ourselves. Let’s Talk About Sex(uality) on April 17th 6pm-8pm at the Beaverton Community Center, is our second SAAM event, where a panel of community partners will answer questions about what healthy sexuality and relationships mean to them.

We can CARE. Being supportive of those who are dealing with the impact of a sexual assault is one of the best ways we can counteract the trauma of violence in the first place. Being present, listening, respecting survivors’ choices, allowing each person’s unique healing process to run its course, and focusing on someone else’s needs rather than your wants for them is an incredible way to show that you care.

Whether you’ve survived an assault, are supporting a survivor, or are doing work to end sexual violence, it takes a lot of effort. Part of taking care is having compassion for yourself, which is why SARC’s third SAAM event, Dare to Self Care on April 30th 1pm-4pm at Taborspace, is a whole afternoon dedicated to self-care activities and sustainability.

Awareness and action don’t end when April is over. Think of these events as an invitation to join SARC for the first time, or as a chance to continue your commitment and relationship. The movement to end sexual violence is not SARC’s alone; it is all of ours. We cannot do this without you.

All events are free, open to the public, and family friendly.SAAM 2017 Poster 8.5x14

You can help spread the word. Here are is our poster for these SAAM events, we appreciate your help to distribute through any and all channels and onto community boards, at your workplace break-rooms, schools, you get the picture!

Legal size >

Letter size >

Learn more about how to volunteer >
Learn more about how to donate >
RSVP for 40 Year Anniversary Fundraiser >

Lobbying to Protect VAWA

Lobbying to Protect VAWA

Among many notable national events since the assumption of power by the new White House administration, such as the recent immigration and refugee ban, the reinstatement and amplification of the global gag rule, threats to strip Sanctuary Cities and States of federal funding, also comes a threat to the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Since its authorization in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act has had an immense impact onFile_006 our country’s ability to address issues around sexual assault, intimate partner violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Thanks to continued bipartisan reauthorizations, countless numbers of services and resources for survivors across the country are made possible through VAWA. Eliminating or even reducing VAWA’s federal funds would directly reduce resources for and the safety of survivors.

To threaten VAWA funding is to threaten the lives of women and their families everywhere. With recent research showing that one million Oregon women and girls experience sexual or domestic violence, one of the highest rates in the nation, SARC’s work could not be more relevant.

VAWA helps fund a variety of SARC programs and services, including our 24 hour Support Line, providing in-person advocacy response and over-the-phone support to survivors in Washington County day and night. VAWA also funds our work with the Coffee Creek Correctional Facility and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, implementing measures from the Prison Rape Elimination Act. SARC’s ability to provide on-going confidential Case Management and Mental Health services to survivors free of charge would be severely impacted, should VAWA be cut or diminished. Agencies like SARC not only provide resources and support to survivors, but also educate our communities on issues surrounding sexual violence. We provide training and education to local Law Enforcement agencies, medical professionals, high school students, and more, with the ultimate goal of reducing rates of sexual violence overall.

Beyond the human and moral imperative of VAWA funded resources, the economic benefit of these programs is substantial. Oregon may already be facing a $1.4 billion deficit, so the prospect of losing federal funding for our local services, thereby putting additional burdens on our state budget, will have a great negative impact. The current costs incurred by survivors as a result of rape is estimated to be a total of $127 billion dollars nationally, a number that would only rise should VAWA be stripped. In fact, another study cited in the same article estimated that VAWA funded programs save $14.8 billion in victimization costs, while the act itself only amounts for $1.6 billion in federal spending.

VAWA costs only $15.50 per woman in the US but saves $159 per woman in the US.

So what can you do? Use your voice, your hands, your influence! Use these links below to call and write your representatives to advocate for VAWA. Whenever possible show up in-person to let your elected representatives know that you feel this is critical funding to stand-up for.

Here are links for our House & Senate elected officials:

Oregon State Representatives
> Oregon State Senators
> U.S. State Representatives
> U.S. Senators

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