Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
October 8, 2010 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS and OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

We must have the courage to stop domestic violence

"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because, it has been said, it is the quality which guarantees all others."
~Winston Churchill

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the annual display of victim silhouettes in the HSB lobby is always a very powerful reminder of the human cost of this issue. Whenever I see those figures, they slow me down for just a moment and make me reflect on the long-lasting damage domestic violence has on individuals and families. They elicit both emotion and thought and one of the words that often comes to my mind is "courage."

It takes courage to confront domestic violence as a survivor, and it takes courage on the part of all of us to take action to stop domestic violence. That's what DV Awareness Month is all about.

Every day, domestic violence touches us at the Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority. It touches the work we do, the clients we serve and the people we work with. It may be touching you or a member of your family.

Here are some startling statistics for Oregon this year. Based on media reports alone, in 27 incidents of domestic violence 28 people were murdered and four people survived. These deaths include three children. Ten of the perpetrators committed suicide and two were killed by police responding to 911 calls. One perpetrator was killed in self-defense by an adult son who was protecting his mother. So far in 2010 a total of 40 people have died in incidents of domestic violence. This is the second year in a row that these numbers have been higher than normal, and the year is not over yet. Another startling fact is that many of those who died, young and old, had a connection to this agency - through medical, food assistance, TANF and our senior services.

We have important roles to play - at work, at home and in our communities - to ensure that we address DV and prevent any more tragedies, like those silhouettes in the lobby.

These are extraordinary times for us. As an agency and as a state, we have seen increasing demand for our services and increasing needs from our clients. Yet at the same time, we are working with shrinking resources to meet those needs and demands. I do not remember a time when employees and managers felt more pressure and anxiety. With everything going on, it's easy to miss the progress being made.

A perfect example of this is the announcement, back in September, of the Violence in Pregnancy and Parenting Intervention grant awarded to Department of Justice to assist pregnant and parenting teens and women with very young children. DHS and OHA collaborated in the grant writing process and will be involved in the implementation of the grant. The grant will increase the number of families receiving help with safety plans, including child safety plans. It will also help increase use of services, such as 24-hour crisis lines, shelters and transitional housing, services to child victims, legal assistance and referral to appropriate community services.

Finally, the grant will accomplish this with services we've wanted to implement for a long time. Early next year, DOJ will be able to fund approximately 13 advocates from domestic violence and sexual assault service providers to be stationed in Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency offices, allowing for immediate intervention and referral. We'll get more information on this later, but I wanted to make sure I highlighted this good news that got a little bit overlooked.

This month helps us recognize the important part we play in the battle against domestic violence. Our services provide essential support, safety and resources for survivors of domestic violence as they work to heal and build new lives for themselves and their children. DHS and OHA are committed to intervening and preventing domestic violence, ensuring staff and managers receive training on the issue and supporting survivors and their children, whether they are our clients or our employees and their families.

Events to raise awareness will be taking place at offices around the state throughout October. I encourage you to get involved and participate in your local events. Follow this link for a sample of events and to find the name of your local DHS Domestic Violence Intervention Team "point person."

To learn more about domestic violence and what you can do to help survivors, visit the DHS Domestic Violence web page.

We all play a part in standing up to domestic violence and I am personally committed to making lives safer for people who face these awful situations. I urge you to join me by printing and sharing this announcement for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Post it in your offices to help raise awareness, recognize survivors and honor those who have lost their lives.

DHS on the web