Perhaps at some point, maybe right now, you’ve wondered when the Domestic Violence Coordination Office became the Domestic and Sexual Violence Coordination Office, and how services have changed as a result.
Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, there is no better time than now to share the ways that Multnomah County has strengthened and expanded its work around domestic violence education and prevention by adding a focus on sexual assault.
Following lengthy conversations with partner agencies and community members, we recognized the importance of prioritizing services for sexual assault survivors who, for a variety of reasons, choose not to report to law enforcement.
About 2,800 women are raped each year in Multnomah County. Some 14,000 women experience other sexual assaults. Only 25 percent of sexual assaults in Multnomah County are reported, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
The newly structured DSVCO seeks to address some of the unmet needs of sexual assault survivors and build a more robust community response to sexual violence through its partnership with El Programa Hispano’s Proyecto UNICA, a culturally specific service provider with an established history of providing domestic and sexual violence services. As a result of this partnership, Proyecto UNICA has
Hired two full-time Mobile Sexual Assault Advocates who provide culturally responsive advocacy and support throughout the community. Advocates are equipped with the knowledge and skills to strategize with survivors on how to safely meet their needs.
Added a Systems Navigator and Outreach Coordinator, who collaborate with and provide support to other local, culturally specific agencies that may be assisting sexual assault survivors in underserved and marginalized communities.
Created the Sexual Assault Advisory Committee, a subcommittee of the Family Violence Coordinating Council, to implement strategies for building a more robust system of response to sexual violence.
The DSVCO is focusing its work around marginalized and underserved members of our community, including survivors of color, indigenous survivors, LGBTQ survivors, undocumented survivors and survivors who are facing homelessness, who struggle with mental illness and who experience disabilities.
Women of color, LGBTQ people of color and women with disabilities experience sexual violence at rates that are disproportionately higher than their counterparts in other groups. A report on campus sexual violence released by the White House last year found that 33.5 percent of multiracial women, 27 percent of American Indian or Alaska native women, 22 percent of black women, 19 percent of white women and 15 percent of Hispanic women have been raped.
Several local events will raise awareness about sexual assault this month.
- Film Screening: The Gulabi Gang, Tuesday, April 25, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Portland Community College Southeast, Women’s Resource Center, Mount Tabor Hall, Room 148, 2305 SE 82nd Ave., Portland
- Denim Day, Wednesday, April 26, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m at Portland State University, Park Blocks
- Brother2Brother & The Color of Now, Thursday, April 27, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Portland Community College Southeast, Women’s Resource Center, Second Floor Lounge, 2305 SE 82nd Ave., Portland
For more information or if you have questions about Multnomah County sexual assault services, contact Lee Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.