Merkley Releases Report on Oregon Domestic Violence and Calls on House to Pass Violence Against Women Act

Portland, OR – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley was joined today by local officials and a survivor of domestic violence to call on the House of Representatives to quickly pass the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that passed the Senate last week. Merkley also released a report of Oregon domestic violence offenses that highlights the importance of VAWA and the need to take action to stand against domestic violence. 

“A woman should never be a victim of violence in her own home,” said Senator Jeff Merkley. “VAWA has proven to dramatically reduce domestic violence. The Senate has passed it with strong bipartisan support and the House should take it up immediately. The report I’m releasing today shows the very real impact that domestic violence has every day on women across Oregon. Lives are at stake and we need action.” 

Today’s report released by Senator Merkley on Oregon domestic violence shows that in 2010, over 18,000 cases of domestic abuse were reported across Oregon to the Oregon Uniform Crime Reporting Division of the Oregon State Police, and over 5,400 of those cases occurred in Multnomah County alone. Since January 2009, over 150 Oregonians have died as a result of domestic violence and at least 10 of these victims were children. 

“What’s important to remember is that women facing domestic violence in their lives don’t have time to wait for Congress to have a debate on the Violence Against Women Act. Every day, we see women who are victimized. Every day, we hear stories of women who live in fear for their safety. Every day, we see the result of what happens if you don’t have strong systems in place to thwart this violence from happening,” said Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen. “I’m urging the House to pass the VAWA legislation that received such great support in the Senate. Adding protections for people in the LGBT community and for Native Americans, and paying more attention to developing ways to prevent sexual assault make VAWA stronger. The House should pass this.”

“VAWA continues to be an essential component of violence prevention services here in Multnomah County,” said Rod Underhill, Multnomah County District Attorney. “VAWA funding allows for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office to dedicate a prosecutor to help provide vital services to victims in underserved communities many of whom face tragic forms of domestic violence and sexual abuse.” 

“Domestic violence is a serious problem in our community, accounting for nearly half of all assaults occurring in the City of Portland,” said Portland City Councilman Dan Saltzman

VAWA is a vital law that has decreased domestic violence and the rate of domestic violence between intimate partners by more than 50 percent. However, VAWA expired for the first time in 2011 and has not been reauthorized. Last year, the Senate passed a bipartisan renewal of the bill, but the House of Representatives did not take it up. 

To see the full text of the report released by Senator Merkley today, click here