Good afternoon everyone, and thank you so much for being here.
I especially want to thank the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and all the community partners who traveled to be here.
We’re here today to proclaim October as Domestic Violence Awareness month.
Everyone in this room is well-versed in the effects of domestic and intimate partner violence. It’s the reason you’re here, it’s the reason you fight, it’s the reason you get out of bed in the morning even when the work seems too difficult to bear.
But we bear it because someone has to.
When I was 16, my boyfriend hit me. He slapped me so hard my neck was stiff the next day. I knew it wasn’t right, but I didn’t tell a soul.
What I didn’t have in the mid 70’s was the larger context of domestic violence. That there were resources available to me. That I wasn’t alone.
Many folks in this room and across the state have stories just like mine. Many have stories far more serious and devastating than mine.
To all of you I say: you are not alone. We are not alone.
We must repeat these words aloud. And say them into being.
Our experiences may be different, our lives may look very different from the outside. But it’s high time that we collectively act. Because we have something in common: we have experienced violence at the hands of someone that was supposed to love us.
And that isn’t right.
It was indigenous legal scholar Sarah Deer who said, “Sexual violence is not an epidemic. An epidemic is biological and blameless.”
Violence is not just oppression of the minds and bodies of those who experience it; it is a systematic effort to dissuade victims of their humanity.
Domestic and sexual violence is historical and political. And when we have a system unable to meet the needs of survivors, we allow the cycle to continue.
It hurts children. And it rips families apart.
Many of the hardships Oregonians face are too often closely tied to intimate partner violence.
For so many Oregonians, housing is one of the most important considerations when trying to stabilize their family or leave an abusive partner.
And domestic violence is the second most cited reason for a child to be taken into foster care.
We are in the process of updating our current structure to be agile in the ways that put survivors first.
This last legislative session, we allocated $3 million specifically for Oregon Housing and Community Services to serve individuals and families experiencing domestic and/or sexual violence.
And the Department of Human Services is in the process of hiring 300 new case workers for the Child Welfare Division.
We cannot fully commit to addressing issues like housing and healthy families unless we can commit to addressing the root causes.
We must give families the tools to make decisions, to stabilize, and to break the cycle of abuse.
Combating intimate partner violence is fundamental to building communities where there is access to opportunity and the ability to thrive.
These are the reasons I am proud to announce my intention to pursue a bold agenda to combat domestic and intimate partner violence. And I invite your contributions as we seek to empower individuals and their families.
We must recognize that we are in dire need of intersectional approaches to addressing this issue.
Including linguistically and culturally specific services for survivors in our urban, rural, tribal, and underserved communities.
We must empower survivors and create a foundation of support with tools of hope for a brighter tomorrow.
It’s time that we harness the collective power of survivorhood. So that no one feels as I did all those years ago. Because together, we are not alone.
Say it with me, together we are not alone.
That’s why I am proud to be in solidarity with survivors and proclaim this month Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
WHEREAS: Oregon is a place where we should protect children, create opportunities to stabilize families, and intervene in cycles of abuse and domestic violence;
WHEREAS: Domestic violence rates in Oregon are higher than the national average for all genders; More than half of the state's population of women and girls have experienced domestic and sexual violence; Aging people and people with disabilities are more likely to experience violence because abuse is about power and control; Domestic violence is one of the most cited factor for why children enter the foster care system, contributing to the removal of more than 18 percent of Oregon’s foster care children;
WHEREAS: Addressing domestic violence requires a complex, multifaceted response; Survivors deserve a system that provides both emergency support and long-term solutions, includes housing stability for survivors and their families, and a network in their communities that supports healing;
WHEREAS: Our state must focus on eliminating the root causes of abuse and violence which for too long has been a vicious cycle; It is vital that we continue to build a system of care for all Oregonians—particularly building capacity for linguistic and culturally specific services and increasing services in rural, tribal, and underserved communities; Advocates, survivors, volunteers, shelters, and caseworkers are integral to implementing a vision that empowers survivors and fosters stable families;
THEREFORE: I, Kate Brown, Governor of the State of Oregon, hereby proclaim October 21, 2019 to November 21, 2019 to be Domestic Violence Awareness month.