4/6/2020 Update: We still recommend the following action.

During this extraordinary time, the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (OCADSV) and the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force (SATF) staff and Board of Directors want to assure survivors that advocacy services are operating and safe for them to access.

Many advocacy and allied programs have reached out to us for support and guidance on how to continue providing hospital response services for survivors accessing a medical-forensic exam (SAFE Kit) during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

OCADSV and SATF are unified in our recommendation that advocacy programs suspend in-person hospital advocacy services - effective immediately.

We acknowledge that during this uncertain time that we are all learning together, and that it will take all of us working together to ensure care for survivors in Oregon. One thing we know for certain - advocates will still be able to provide exceptional services for survivors remotely.

We will re-evaluate this position in the coming weeks, but for now we encourage everyone to play their role to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

We encourage our partners to engage in the coordination of services throughout their community. Some information to consider includes:
• We encourage SARTs to meet remotely and make a plan for your modified community coordinated response that centers survivors and maintains access to advocacy services.
• Look for tools provided by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), Resource Sharing Project (RSP), and updates from OCADSV and SATF as the current pandemic evolves.
• Coordinate how advocates might be available to the survivor by phone for safety planning and online support.
• Ensure that advocacy is provided in a private and safe location that ensures confidentiality and strict privacy.
• Stay informed about the local changes to hospitals, courts, DHS, or supervised visitation services and determine what those changes mean for advocates responding to survivors.
• We encourage all advocacy programs to take guidance directly from local health officials on the proper cleaning of shelters and other shared service locations, as well as safety and physical distancing protocols.
• Plan for and consider the needs of those historically marginalized in your communities, consider that their access to services may be particularly limited.

We are a deeply committed and resilient system. We encourage all of us to be creative and flexible so that access to domestic and sexual violence services in Oregon remains accessible to all survivors.

Vanessa Timmons, Executive Director (OCADSV)
Michele Roland-Schwartz, Executive Director (SATF)

About the author

Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence & Oregon Attorney General's Sexual Assault Task Force