Addressing the devastating toll of community violence
The Portland metro area has experienced an increase in community violence over the past year. Multnomah County's Victim and Survivor Services Unit, a diverse team advocating for Black, Indigenous and other communities of color, has stepped up to help crime victims who have suffered. PHOTO COURTESY MULTNOMAH COUNTY COMMUNICATIONS
Multnomah County’s Victim and Survivor Services Unit works with survivors of crime connected to probation and parole. Over the past year and a half we have encountered an increase in violence. The number of incidents of community violence — domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, person-to-person violence and gun violence — is devastating.
Countless news stories have highlighted tragic loss and violence that tears at the seams of our community. The impacts are life changing not only for a survivor, but also their family, friends and the neighborhoods they live in. And like so many crises that have recently unfolded, they disproportionately impact Black, Indigenous and other communities of color.
We know that many in our community struggle to trust a justice system that has historically organized itself around a bureaucracy of punishment while neglecting to care for those who have suffered from the consequences of harmful actions. However, our team works to advocate for the care of victims and survivors connected to the Multnomah County Department of Community Justice.
We want our community members to know about the resources and services available to victims and survivors who have been harmed by someone on supervision in Multnomah County.
Our unit operates in one of the six Oregon counties that provide victim and survivor services during community supervision in both adult and juvenile cases. If someone on probation, parole or post-prison supervision in Multnomah County has been convicted of causing harm to you, we can provide support to you. You do not have to be listed as a victim in a case. We also know that people on supervision experience abuse and we are here for you, too.
Through additional funds provided by the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners, we have expanded a client assistance fund to further support survivors who have experienced violence from someone on supervision. These funds can help with immediate safety needs, such as housing, transportation, household utilities and even security systems in some cases.
Multnomah County is also expanding victim and survivor notification services with resources from the American Rescue Plan. These funds support a position that expands our ability to provide notifications of court processes and probation violation hearings and other notifications that victims have a right to request.
Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice Victim and Survivor Services Unit is a survivor-led, trauma-informed team that is committed to serving the whole person. Our eight-member team includes culturally specific and bilingual advocates who support victims from the Black/African American and Latinx communities. We are here to advocate for you, get you the information you need to plan around your safety, support your healing process, and connect you to resources to meet your unique needs.
If you or someone you know is experiencing any kind of harm from someone on probation or parole in Multnomah County, our advocates are here to help. We welcome you to reach us to contact an advocate, request notification of probation violence in court and learn more about the Department of Community Justice’s victim and survivor services, by phone at 503-988-7606 or online at www.multco.us/dcj/victims-services.
If you are experiencing domestic or sexual violence, the crisis line Call to Safety is available to support you 24/7 at 503-235-5333. For all other survivors of crime, Lutheran Community Services is available to offer support at 971-888-7830.
Thanks to the eight members of the Multnomah County Victim’s and Survivor Services Unit for the submission of this important message.