When Self-Care becomes Collective Care

By Trisha Elizarde-Miller, OCADSV Executive Administrative Assistant
[email protected]

When was the last time you took a day off from work to focus on your own healing and restoration? In our movement to end domestic and sexual violence, particularly during a socio-political climate where tensions are constant, often times our response to those tensions is to act. There is a sense where ‘taking a break’ or ‘taking time off’ might feel impossible and that there is so much responsibility that is carried.

There is a principle called ahimsa which is one of the yamas of the eight limbs of yoga. It is a practice of nonviolence toward self and towards others. This yoga teaching emphasizes that in order to prevent and address violence in our world, you must address that within yourself. It is easy to participate in harmful internal dialogue that you have to keep pushing forward in this work even if it is at the expense of your health.

New type of protective order: Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPOs)

By Choya Adkison-Stevens, OCADSV Equity & Inclusion Coordinator

Last year the Oregon legislature approved a new type of protection order, ERPO, Extreme Risk Protection Order. According to a memo from Everytown, “Extreme risk protection orders -- also called gun violence restraining orders -- enable courts to temporarily prohibit a person from having guns if law enforcement or immediate family members show that he poses a significant danger to himself or others. ERPO laws have been shown to reduce suicide rates by providing an opportunity to intervene and prevent a person from accessing firearms during a time of crisis, before dangerous warning signs escalate into firearm suicide.”

Where to start? Helpful resources focused on enhancing sexual assault services in dual/multi-service organizations

Within the last 15 years, the Resource Sharing Project, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, sibling coalitions, and others have developed valuable resources for the SA/DV field focused on how we can ensure SA services are internally and externally strong within dual/multi-service organizations. These resources provide guidance on prevention, intervention, and systems change programming specific to SA services.

Within this first piece of the series, the goal is to provide an overview of several strong resources currently available regarding enhancing SA services in dual/multi-service organizations. Whether your program is in its initial phase of developing SA services or if you have been providing strong services for years, this article will provide information that can support your SA work.

Addressing Intersections of Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Violence and HIV/AIDS

By Choya Adkison-Stevens, OCADSV Equity & Inclusion Coordinator

Note: this piece is the first in a series supporting advocates to work with survivors around sex, sexuality and sexual health. Future columns may discuss such topics as sexual trauma, sex work, reproductive coercion, kink, non-monogamy, and others. If you have question, ideas, or experiences you want to share, please contact Choya Adkison-Stevens; thank you!

“At double the national rate, 55% of HIV-positive women have been found to experience DV.”

Yoga & Vicarious Trauma

By Trisha Elizarde-Miller, OCADSV Executive Administrative Assistant
Trisha Fey Yoga, 200-hr RYT

Service providers can often undergo vicarious trauma, which may happen after hearing survivors talk about their traumatic experiences. Even though the service provider may not be involved directly in the survivor’s trauma, they may feel the same effects of the trauma that is being described to them.

Developing Critical Partnerships: Child Support & Domestic Violence in Oregon

By Meagan Schorr, OCADSV Sexual and Domestic Violence Program Coordinator

This summer and fall we have been busy building an exciting new partnership with the Oregon Child Support Program. This partnership has allowed for the opportunity to train Child Support staff on domestic violence and inform policy changes that better support customers of the Child Support program that may also be impacted by DV.

Beginning in the spring of 2017, the Oregon Child Support Program (CSP) and OCADSV began tailoring a training originally developed in Texas that focuses on the intersections of child support and DV.  Vera Poe, Policy Development Manager for the Division of Child Support, explains the project below:

Advancing Gender-Inclusive Services

Do you sometimes feel confused or overwhelmed by trying to keep up with evolving language and experiences regarding gender and sexuality? This article aims to provide some easy to understand information that will help ground our conversations about (and work to improve) gender-inclusive services.

Note: there is a helpful terms list here; use it when you run into a word you don’t understand!

In this article I will discuss three concepts -- gender essentialism, the gender binary, heteronormativity -- and the ways they limit our ability to provide gender-inclusive services. I will briefly reference relevant law and policy that affirm we must provide services to survivors of all genders. And I will present some practical suggestions for improving accessibility for people of all genders, particularly those who are not cisgender women. Keep an eye out for a webinar expanding on some of this material.

The foundation of our advocacy work is promoting self-determination and safety for survivors. We generally understand the need for our services stems from the use of patriarchal and misogynistic violence, and other forms of oppression (ableism, racism, homophobia, etc) exacerbate the harm caused. We are committed to upholding the dignity of each and every survivor, regardless of gender, race, language, income, disability, etc; these are the anti-oppressive values from which we strive to do our work.

However, sometimes our advocacy work is impeded by the lingering, often unstated, even unconscious, belief in what is called gender essentialism: the view that women and men are fundamentally and permanently different on a biological level. One of the places this shows up is the mistaken belief that transgender women are actually men, and should not be allowed in spaces historically or currently intended for women. This is incredibly harmful to inclusion, healing and uplifting for trans women, many of whom experience incredibly high rates of violence. As United States Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta reminded us last summer in a powerful address, “transgender women are women; they live, work and study as women.”

Moving forward from Charlottesville

The Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence is deeply saddened by the recent acts of violence perpetrated by white supremacists and their supporters in Charlottesville, Virginia. As an organization dedicated to ending violence and promoting social equity, we mourn the lives lost and injuries sustained while redoubling our efforts to support all survivors of sexual and domestic violence, including those from marginalized communities.

“Ally” is a verb; recognizing and interrupting oppression must be an ongoing process for all of us. We must call racism and bigotry by their names wherever we see them. We must hold accountable those people who are perpetrating these hateful acts of terror and violence. We invite you to lean in with us, especially when it is uncomfortable, as we work to build a more just, inclusive society.

Healthcare in 2017: what you need to know

Many survivors of domestic and sexual violence are recipients of health care made possible by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA, or sometimes known as “Obamacare”), which supports programs such as our Oregon Health Plan and Federally Qualified Health Centers, as well as other public funding programs that make possible health care for people in need.

However, even as the future is unclear, there are actions you can take right now to take charge of your health and help advocate for the survivors of domestic and sexual violence with whom you work.

Since November, people across the United States are signing up for health care through the exchanges at record rates.  No matter your income status or situation, open enrollment for health insurance runs through January 31, 2017. The coverage you sign up for today is a contract for your health care in 2017.

Whatever may happen, new health insurance rules will not effect this year.  Thus, it is still a good idea to enroll eligible survivors in the Oregon Health Plan or on the exchanges.  Key points for advocates and survivors remain in 2017:

  • Domestic violence is a health issue.  Thus, domestic violence screening and counseling are core preventive health services.

  • Although the deadline for many people is January 31, survivors of domestic violence are exempt from the restricted enrollment periods, and can sign up for the Oregon Health Plan at any time.  (More below.)

  • Survivors do not need to provide documentation of abuse or violence to qualify.  

  • Domestic violence is no longer a pre-existing condition for insurers.  

  • Survivors who are married to their abusive partner have the ability to sign up for their own insurance and claim the appropriate tax subsidy as long as they have separated (Learn more here).

  • In Oregon, thanks to OCADSV and partner advocacy in 2015, survivors who are receiving care under their abusive partner’s healthcare insurance policy (private health insurance such as Moda, PacificSource, Providence, etc.) may still access confidential services by submitting the Oregon Request for Confidential Communication form here: http://tinyurl.com/ORPatientPrivacy (Learn more here.)

  • With tax season upon us, and with 1 in 20 Oregonians still uninsured, we know that many people will need to pay a penalty for a lack of healthcare insurance in 2016.  Survivors of domestic violence qualify for a “hardship exemption” from this penalty.  (Learn more here.)

We recommend advocates take the time to work with a community partner to the Oregon Health Plan to assist in navigating enrollment issues for survivors of domestic violence.  Community partners include trained navigators who are staff members of organizations such as IRCO, Urban League, Outside In, NARA, and many other organizations across the state of Oregon.  You can find them online (by zip code, make sure to search for “Community Partner (P)”) here: http://healthcare.oregon.gov/Pages/get-help.aspx . Contact Sarah Keefe at OCADSV if you have further questions about this process.

Oregon housing crunch catastrophic for many domestic violence survivors

The severe shortfall of affordable housing throughout Oregon, particularly in the Portland metropolitan area, has been catastrophic, for none more so than individuals and families fleeing domestic violence. Government agencies and community-based social service providers work tirelessly to connect people with emergency shelter, transitional housing, and other programs to restore dignity and self-determination. However, the number of individuals and families in need far exceeds the number of units available.