The purpose of the Oregon Domestic Violence Fatality Review Team (ODVFRT) is to review domestic-violence related fatalities and make findings and recommendations that can ultimately prevent domestic violence from reaching its most tragic conclusion: death.
ODVFRT reviews only intimate partner violence (IPV) related deaths. The goal of each review is to be as thorough, in-depth, and insightful as possible. Toward this goal, ODVFRT attempts to obtain and review as much information as is available about the involved parties, their relationship, and life circumstances leading up to and including the fatality incident. Relevant information can include law enforcement reports, criminal histories, medical and autopsy reports, newspaper stories, and other non-privileged agency information. Team members endeavor to interview family, co-workers, friends, and personal and professional acquaintances who may have relevant information about the victim or perpetrator. This type of review allows for not only a deeper understanding of each fatality reviewed, but also a broader and more textured consideration of intimate partner violence generally.
Each review is separated into two one-day meetings. The first meeting is held in the location where the fatality occurred. The second meeting is held approximately two weeks later in either Portland or Salem. Due to the combination of resource and time limitations and the exhaustive format of the review, ODVFRT seeks to review only two fatalities per calendar year. This number is but a fraction of the IPV fatalities that occur in Oregon over a 12-month period of time. Nonetheless, ODVFRT is confident that this type of process will be able to inform and improve our reaction to and prevention of intimate partner violence and the fatalities that result from it.
Core Values and Philosophy
The work of ODVFRT is guided by these core values:
- Respect for survivors and the dead, as well as their families, communities, and loved ones, and for local service providers, responders, and colleagues;
- Personal responsibility to maintain awareness of how domestic violence affects our lives;
- Cultural competence and sensitivity in our work;
- Collaboration with local partners to increase the impact of recommendations;
- Accountability to ensure that domestic violence prevention is promoted in communities throughout Oregon;
- Identifying system, policy, and community challenges can improve our ability to prevent domestic violence homicide; and
- Research and practice guide our efforts.
ODVFRT will consider the circumstances surrounding the death(s) under review, the perceptions of the victim(s) and perpetrator of the services that were available to them, the unmet needs they had that if met could have helped prevent the fatalities, and the community response to the death(s). This review will be done in a manner that is sensitive to all involved, including the victim, perpetrator, and their families and loved ones. In the spirit of the purpose of the case review the Team recognizes that each individual involved in the case currently under review will have strength and resiliency factors that need to be considered. Diverse and divergent perspectives of each circumstance are considered and incorporated to maximize what can be learned.
The charge to work collaboratively to improve statewide response requires that ODVFRT members endeavor to employ a no blame, no shame philosophy to the case review process. The Team engages in open-minded discussions about how to improve the services available to prevent domestic violence homicides and improve the lives of Oregonians.
The purpose of each case review is not to point blame or adjudicate the case, but to identify gaps, challenges, and even successes and offer recommendations for systems improvements.