October 15, 2019
As part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Traci Anderson and Emily Hyde, Program Supervisor for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Victim Assistance Program, provided a briefing to Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and the Board of Commissioners about the state of domestic violence in our community.
Last year, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office reviewed 2,839 cases of domestic violence.
“To prosecute domestic violence really requires a careful and dedicated balance,” Anderson said. “We have to balance the obligations of our community to keep them protected, to hold people accountable and to protect the survivors of domestic violence. We do our work while always recognizing the need to be victim-centered and trauma-informed at all stages.”
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Domestic Violence Unit is comprised of six attorneys, including Anderson who supervises the unit. The team works closely with the Victim Assistance Program that has five dedicated victim advocates assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit.
“For victims to make informed decisions, they need to have information,” said Hyde. “Domestic violence happens to all members of our community.”
In 2018, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office provided 27,000 services to survivors of domestic violence. These services included referrals to community-based resources, attending court appearances with and on behalf of survivors, and providing safety planning for survivors and children.
Anderson said domestic violence is the second most common stressor within the household where child abuse is present after drug and alcohol abuse. The third stressor is mental health.
“When our team approaches a domestic violence case, we’re not only addressing the familial abuse we see but we’re also addressing all the other issues associated with that individual case and the individual person,” Anderson said.
Both Anderson and Hyde stressed the importance of building trust with survivors.
“Domestic violence is a cycle,” Hyde said. “It can continue to occur even as a case is pending trial.”
Victim advocates work closely with attorneys and support staff within the Domestic Violence Unit to ensure survivors feel safe to report no contact order violations and also feel safe reporting their needs.
“Success is measured differently within our unit,” Anderson said. “It is a victory just to have a survivor tell their story. We are here to be there for them.”
Anderson said there is always opportunity to improve the community’s response to survivors of domestic violence.
“We need to provide more resources to people looking to leave an abusive relationship and those resources include providing more shelter, financial assistance, safety planning and comprehensive services like we have at the Gateway Center,” Anderson said.
The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office Domestic Violence Unit is committed to ending family abuse. The unit engages in evidence-based prosecution of domestic violence. It emphasizes the importance of victim advocacy services for all victims and their children. Even when the prosecutor decides to proceed with a case without a victim’s participation, every effort is made to offer the victim advocacy services from available resources.
- Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office: Victim Assistance Program: 503-988-3222
- Call to Safety: 1-888-235-5333
- The Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services: 503-988-6400
Contact: Brent Weisberg, Communications Director