Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Are Abused Chickens More Important Than Abused People?

It can be lonely being a little not-for-profit.  Not even big not-for-profits gain all the media attention they would like to have to support their mission, but being a little not-for-profit, I have to work even harder for recognition.  I submitted what I considered an important Op-Ed piece to The Oregonian.  I can't say that I was overly surprised that they did not publish it.  So I am sending the same piece to another weekly paper that can be cheeky and naughty.  Since they are cheeky and naughty, I wrote a slightly cheeky cover letter which I am sharing here along with a longer version of the Op-Ed.

Dear Sirs

Portland Mercury

I submitted my Op-Ed piece, Will We Let Domestic Violence Services Disappear?, attached below to The Oregonian a few weeks ago as they carry one or two Op-Ed pieces by members of the general public in their online edition every day.  The piece highlights the problems faced in Southern Josephine County by domestic violence victims and advocates caused by the delay in the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a decline in government and foundation financial support for domestic violence advocacy and tax revenues too low to support adequate law enforcement.  Basically when you cut funding for domestic violence agencies and for law enforcement you end up with disappearing domestic violence services and people reporting assaults to 911 facing their perpetrators alone.  Each day of the last few weeks I scanned the online edition of The Oregonian to see if they printed my Op-Ed.  They printed a piece by a young Republican about how the Equal Rights Amendment provided positive opportunities for Republicans.  They printed a piece about Clackamas County being an oasis of opportunity and they printed a piece about egg production standards, but they did not print my article.  While I agree producing eggs by placing hens in tiny cages abuses them, and while I personally only eat eggs produced by cage free hens, I also feel that the abuse of women, children and small numbers of adult men is even more important than the abuse of chickens.

Maybe the editorial staff of The Oregonian was too concerned about what their bosses would think to print my Op-Ed.  I read somewhere that a new libertarian editor or publisher took over The Oregonian, and my Op-Ed piece, which points out that tax dollars paid to the government and spent by the government can save lives or at least save women from being beaten and raped by their ex-husbands, doesn’t fit with the Libertarian message of lower taxes and less government is better than higher taxes and more government services.  

Maybe my not-for-profit is too small to pay attention to.

Maybe I am not good enough of a writer, or maybe my piece lacked enough precise information about exactly what has happened since President Obama signed the latest revision of VAWA into law on March 7.  Or maybe The Oregonian receives so many Op-Ed submissions that they have a really hard time choosing which ones to print.

Being a little disappointed about my piece not being published, I went to Grand Central Bakery to drown my sorrows my way -- by sipping a cappuccino and chewing on a chocolate croissant.  I like to read and eat at the same time, so I picked up The Portland Mercury.  I feel about thirty years too old for The Portland Mercury articles on the music scene.  I stopped listening to the radio when Boy George was popular.  Despite my liberal politics, I live my personal life in a conservative fashion.  I don’t drink or go out to bars or other entertainment venues.  I am a little too poor to go to movies.  Drinking cappuccino and eating croissants at Grand Central Bakery is about as wild as I get.  And while I appreciate the cheeky, ironic tone of The Portland Mercury, it is not my writing style.  I teach Compassionate Listening to help supporters know how to help survivors of abuse heal.  Humor is important to healing but needs to be gentle when we work with deeply wounded people until or unless we understand what kind of humor they feel safe with.

However, that day I sat in Grand Central Bakery reading The Portland Mercury, I saw an article about snappy comebacks to sexually harassing comments women hear from men on the streets.  These comments are a form of domestic violence.  As I read the article, I wondered if you all might take my Op-Ed piece.

At the very least read it and consider investigating what is going on in Josephine County and write your own article.  We, in Portland, are not immune to the problems faced by women and domestic violence services in Josephine County.  The overall trend in our country is towards lower taxes and less government support for those in need.  Moreover, unless these lower taxes and spending improve the economy, foundations will have less money to support not-for-profits while more people will be in need of their services. 

You can call Chris Mallette at 541.592.2515 to find out about domestic violence in Josephine County and about the Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance that she directs.  She also asks that everyone take note of the Facebook Page of the Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance at


Virginia Jones, cofounder
Compassionate Gathering/ Walk Across Oregon to End Abuse and Heal the Wounds


Virginia Jones, cofounder
Compassionate Gathering/ Walk Across Oregon to End Abuse and Heal the Wounds

Don’t Take Domestic Violence Services For Granted -- 
They Might Disappear

Last summer a woman in the Illinois Valley in southern Josephine County called 911 and asked for help while her felon ex boyfriend was trying to break down her door (  There were no sheriff’s deputies available to help her.  She was transferred to the state police who were also unable to send anyone to her house.  The ex-boyfriend eventually broke into the house and beat and raped the woman. 

I remember first hearing about domestic violence when I was in college in the 1970s.  A battered women’s shelter opened up in the college town where I attended school.  Since I have not needed shelter and support to get away from a man bent on harming me or my children, I took these shelters and services for granted until very recently.  Changes in society imperil existing protection for women and their children and small numbers of men.  Much of the progress we have made is being rolled back -- by tax and spending cuts, by a poor economy and by a lack of political and community will.

I have been Walking Across Oregon, through towns and on scenic trails, since 2008 to raise awareness about various forms of abuse and have met domestic violence advocates along the way.  I’ve listened to them describe the support they provide to victims as well as the challenges they face.  Many shelters for battered women sprang up in the 1960s and 70s, but they did not receive stable funding until former Senator Joe Biden shepherded the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) into existence in 1994.  VAWA also supported the funding of Victims’ Assistants, which are the only source of local support for survivors of rape and domestic violence in some rural Oregon counties.  VAWA succeeded.  Between 1993 to 2010, the rate of intimate partner violence declined 67%, and the rate of intimate partner homicides of women decreased 35% and that of men decreased 46% (  VAWA was renewed in 2000 and 2005, but support for VAWA faltered in 2010 when Democrats added some new protections for gays and lesbians, Native American women and illegal immigrants.   Many Republicans objected to these provisions and the Act lay dormant until February 2013, when it was finally renewed.  There were consequences to the political infighting over VAWA.  I learned from advocates I visited on the Walk Across Oregon that they had experienced a 50% cut in funding and staffing between 2009 and 2012.  The federal budget sequester threatens more still more funding cuts.  Declines in foundation funding due to the poor economy have caused even more cuts.  And it gets worse.  In Oregon counties that have seen a decline in federal timber sales and support, Curry and Josephine Counties in particular, there have been dramatic cuts in police and sheriff’s departments as the counties residents have resisted tax increases to make up for lost federal funds.  These cuts in law enforcement created the situation in Josephine County where a victims had to face her felon ex-boyfriend alone, without police support.

The consequences of all these cuts is that we are losing domestic violence services.  Just this last week, I spoke with Chris Mallette, the Executive Director of the Illinois Valley Safe House Alliance in Cave Junction, Oregon.  She told me that the Alliance had experienced an 80% decline in funding due to declines in grants from foundations.  They are struggling to stay open with volunteers and two part time employees.

Middle Class and Upper Class women get beaten and harassed and murdered too, but they have more resources for support.  Domestic violence services help poor women with few resources.

It is important to note that small numbers of men also seek help from domestic violence services.  However, many of these men find their situation so embarrassing that they are even more reluctant than women to come forward and seek help.

No one -- neither adult nor child, nor male or female, nor rich or poor -- should have to face rape and abuse alone.  What can we the rest of us do to end domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse and support the survivors so they can heal?

To join a Walk to raise awareness about abuse and domestic violence or to support survivors or work on your own healing, contact Virginia Jones cofounder of Compassionate Gathering/Walk Across Oregon at 503-866-6163 or

To here more about what is going on in Josephine County with survivors of domestic violence, contact Chris Mallette at ___________.

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