Domestic Violence Awareness: The Role of a Victim Advocate

Call to Safety Crisis Line (formerly Portland Women’s Crisis Line):  503-235-5333

National Domestic Violence Hotline:  1-800-799-SAFE (7233) 

Emergencies: 9-1-1

By the time Emma Kane gets to her office each morning there is usually a stack of police reports to go through.

“Typically, my mornings at the District Attorney’s Office are spent calling victims who have cases that a deputy district attorney is reviewing because the defendant is in custody,” Kane said. “We have a lot of discussions with victims about potential concerns they have about safety and we explain the criminal justice process to them so they know what to expect and can plan accordingly.”

Kane is one of the victim advocates assigned to the Domestic Violence Unit within the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. She works closely with victims/survivors to go over safety planning, discussing options for protective orders and letting them know their rights as a crime victim.

“Safety planning is something that is done in preparation for the worst case scenario if the survivor/victim feels that they are confronted by a situation that involves an abusive person,” Kane said.

As part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office is proud to take a stand against intimate partner violence and to raise awareness of crime victims’ rights.

“In the Domestic Violence Unit, we are focused first and foremost on the protection and safety of the survivor, their family and also the community,” said Multnomah County Chief Deputy District Attorney Chuck Sparks, who oversees the DV Unit.

The DV Unit is responsible for handling domestic violence felony and misdemeanor cases. The unit is also responsible for screening, issuing, negotiating, and prosecuting allegations of contempt of court for violations of a Family Abuse Prevention Act (FAPA) restraining order. The unit is committed to stopping family abuse by proceeding with prosecution in all issued cases.

Kane works closely with the deputy district attorneys in the DV Unit as they work to identify the best outcomes for victims and defendants.

“We make sure we are engaging with our victims at every stage of the criminal justice process,” said Multnomah County Senior Deputy District Attorney Traci Anderson, who supervises the attorneys assigned to the DV Unit.

Kane added that everyone is very sensitive to the emotions involved in a domestic violence case.

“We listen and we talk through their feelings,” she said. “We remind them that it’s their right to keep themselves safe and to keep their children safe. The deputy district attorneys in the Domestic Violence Unit really do value the input from the survivor especially in terms of what they feel might be beneficial to address the offender’s behavior and to address any safety concerns they may have for themselves and community.”

The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office recognizes that domestic violence can touch anyone. The DA’s Office encourages victims/survivors of domestic violence to reach out if they need assistance. There are numerous community organizations that are willing to help, including the Gateway Center, which can offer referrals to confidential services.

“Domestic violence is often all about power and control,” Kane said. “Being able to restore and give that back to a survivor – even in its simplest form – is what makes this work so fulfilling for me.


Gateway Center

Multnomah County Domestic Violence Resource Guide

Contact: Brent Weisberg, Communications Director

Phone: 503.988.6567