CORVALLIS, Ore. – An organization helping victims of rape and domestic violence has seen an increase in need for its services during the last fiscal year, and is working on several projects to increase funding and to decrease violence within the community.
The Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence (CARDV) received 41 percent more calls for help from victims in Linn and Benton counties during the last fiscal year than the previous year. Letetia Wilson, the Executive Director of CARDV, says one in four women are victims of domestic violence. But not all victims are women. She says it is important to remember that men and children are also victims.
“It’s scary to call for help,” Wilson said. “I think there’s often this image that if someone hits me, then I would just leave. But it’s so much more complicated than that.”
But 7,000 people called the nonprofit between July 2012-June 2013, almost doubling the number of calls CARDV received the previous year.
Wilson says she is not sure why the organization has received so many more calls. She says it could be because more people know about their services, or more people are seeking help.
The Corvallis Police Department says it has actually seen a decrease in sex offenses over the last fiscal year, but an increase in physical assaults.
“The decrease in sex offenses is a difference of three cases,” said Corvallis Police Sgt. Ben Harvey. “In 2013 we had 39 cases compared to 42 in 2012.”
Harvey says in 2012 Corvallis police responded to 75 physical assault cases, such as harassment or menacing. In 2013, police responded to 81.
“These aren’t alarming changes,” Harvey said. “But we do see changes in assault cases when there are changes in the economy. When the economy isn’t doing too well, we typically see an increase in violence.”
Wilson says not every case is reported. Many clients at CARDV are seeking confidential help to strategize ways to stay safe without involving law enforcement. But with more victims seeking help, CARDV is seeking more funds.
“We don’t want to turn away the survivor whether it’s our emotional services that get bumped because there’s a higher crisis,” Wilson said.
Wilson says she is already applying for more grants, but the organization is always accepting donations: cash or toiletries for the emergency shelters.
CARDV is also working on a solution to the problem of abuse: changing the way society thinks about violence. It is creating a men’s coalition to speak with male students.
“It’s a group of community members that are coming together to start working on curriculum for youth specifically thinking about healthy masculinity,” Wilson said.
She says she wants to promote a different way of thinking. Wilson says CARDV is trying to work with schools and after school programs. Wilson acknowledges that men are also the victims of abuse, but most victims are women.
“It’s talking about the basic language that people use: some of the put-downs that they use are sexist,” Wilson said.
If you or anyone you know has been abused, CARDV says not to hesitate to call. Its 24-hour hotline number is: (541) 754-0110 or (800) 927-0197.