While doing this ride, I’ve learned even more about domestic violence, giving me and the entire AntiCycle project an even greater sense of urgency.
On Sunday, 5 June, while wandering around Portland waiting for the bus to Astoria, I picked up a copy of the Portland Tribune, which was running a front-page feature story on domestic violence. While it focused primarily on the increasing frequency and seriousness of domestic violence – even leading to domestic homicide – and the decreasing availability of resources for abused women and children in the Portland area in particular, it also mentioned some troubling trends we’re facing on the national level:
“Across the country . . . violent crime has been dropping, even through the current recession. But that isn’t true when it comes to domestic violence. And the rise has the people who help domestic violence victims worried that economic stress is pushing some abusive partners past the boiling point just when there are fewer options for their victimized partners who need to get out.”
Literally two days after reading this article, I met Bill in a bar/restaurant in Manzanita, OR. Bill is a retired police officer and when he learned about my project, he immediately made an on the road donation to AntiCycle. He then shared with me how domestic violence is handled in the real world, from the perspective of law enforcement: domestic violence is never viewed or treated as real assault. Bill said whenever a domestic violence call comes in, the cops go to the home, fill out their report, and put a big “DV” on the top of the page. This, said Bill, essentially means it’s in the home – it’s not anyone’s concern. As a result, these cases are rarely pursued, and if they are, the abusing men receive little to no real punishment for their crimes. More importantly, the abused women receive no real protection by the very people charged with doing so. Who else does she call? Where does she turn?
This is insane! An assault victim out on the streets has a much larger chance of actually prosecuting a case against his or her attacker, while a woman – who has to continue sharing a home and most likely a bed with her attacker! – has no real chance of receiving the same rights and protection offered that person on the street.
Domestic violence is a troubling blight on the face of our society. Shelters like SafeHouse Denver are essential in the struggle to overcome this. Please do what you can to join the AntiCycle project.