Facing Sexual Violence Is Vital

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), April 28, 2013 | Go to article overview
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Facing Sexual Violence Is Vital

Byline: Floyd Prozanski For The Register-Guard

I was pleased to see The Register-Guard's coverage of Sexual Assault Support Services' 10th annual Poetry of Survival event ("Poet's speak out on sexual violence," April 22). These poets - these survivors - are an inspiration, and they are putting into words a great, unspoken epidemic that plagues Oregon society: sexual and domestic violence.

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, but that fact, along with many other facts about sexual and domestic violence in Oregon, is unknown or unrecognized.

According to a recent survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control, Oregon has the second highest incidence of rape in the nation. The study estimates that 409,000 Oregon women have been subject to rape, while 837,000 Oregon women have been victims of other sexual crimes.

There are amazing organizations, like SASS and Womenspace here in Lane County, dedicated to combating sexual and domestic violence and helping survivors of those awful crimes. Just last year, Womenspace provided advocacy for 873 survivors, offered services for 946 children and continued case management for 610 clients.

But despite their best efforts, Womenspace and organizations like it across the state are not able to serve all of those who may need their help. Their job has been made more difficult by limited funding and shrinking budgets that have forced cuts to vital services.

We have seen that first-hand here in Lane County. Due to a lack of funding, W omenspace was forced to make the hard decision to close its walk-in advocacy services at its Eugene Crisis and Support Center. Survivors of sexual and domestic violence will still be able to get help via appointments, but a victim in crisis and in need often cannot wait for an appointment.

Similar stories and similar service cuts are playing out in domestic and sexual violence organizations across the state. We in the Legislature need to do what we can to protect and enhance domestic and sexual violence funding, but the sad truth is that we probably will never have enough funds to combat the scale of the problem.

So we have to be creative. We have to be forward-thinking. We have to do our best to grab this problem by the root and promote education/prevention to reduce the number of crimes and lower the numbers of victims.

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