County needs to help domestic violence victims

There are many things that make me smile and cause me to swell with pride when I think or talk about Linn County, but the following is not one of them:

The county accounts for 60 percent of the clients of the Corvallis-based Center Against Rape and Domestic Violence.

That number was one of the statistics discussed last week as the 28-year-old nonprofit hosted a forum at the Lebanon Public Library to discuss ways to expand its services in Linn County.

It’s clearly a statement of need and a call to action.

Domestic violence is an infection of the worst kind, beginning with an individual who infects a family that, in turn, infects a community, county, state, nation and world.

Within an abusive home, hearts and spirits are crushed and lives are effectively ruined €” and, in the most extreme cases, even lost. Children become broken, sometimes beyond repair. Some will take what they’ve learned as abused children and go forward to become abusers.

Others, strange as it may sound, will seek out abusers and continue as victims simply because there is at least some comfort in familiarity €” and thus the infection takes another family.

CARDV provides victims of abuse with encouragement, support, shelter and safety €” but from a headquarters that almost halfway from Corvallis to Philomath, roughly an hour’s drive from many parts of Linn County. And here I’ll remind you here that six of every 10 CARDV clients are from Linn County.

Despite that distance, and regardless of day of the week or time of day, a phone call to CARDV will get victims out of an abusive home and into shelter immediately.

However, for Linn County residents, this means taking themselves and their children outside of their communities as CARDV has no facilities or shelter options in Linn County.

What CARDV clients in Linn County need is a place within their community to go for help; a place where they can talk with an advocate, make phone calls and use a computer in safety, obtain information about how to get and keep themselves and their children safe and learn how to start a new life free of fear and intimidation.

They need shelter care within their own communities to help minimize the impact, as much as possible, on their children by allowing them to stay in their classrooms, be with their friends at the local Boys & Girls Club, finish the season with their sports team €” the things children should really be thinking about.

Currently, CARDV has a tentative five-year plan to bring services and facilities to Linn County. But five years is an impossibly long time to wait for a child living with abuse.

The numbers €” in fiscal year 2008-09, CARDV responded to almost 2,700 Linn County calls, guided more than 800 people through Linn Circuit Court and drove more than 25,000 miles while assisting Linn survivors €” make it painfully obvious that the need for services is now and therefore the action must come now, not five years down the road.

I can speak to this need personally because I am a Linn County survivor. I survived because someone stood beside me.

Unfortunately, many still stand alone.

I appeal to you, from the heart of a survivor, to come stand along beside those trying undertake the inexplainably daunting task of trying to escape and survive domestive violence.

Help CARDV to have a physical presence in our Linn County communities for the sake of our children and families, which are the very heart of our communities.

Laurie Osborne, also known as Laure Fowler, has four children and serves on the City Council in Sweet Home, where she’s lived since 1997.