Tigard Police Detective Rinell and Sergeant Fox's interview on the iHeart Radio’s John Erickson Show on 10/1/19
Family Justice Center of Washington County
By Toni Loch, Director
Family Justice Center of Washington County, located in Beaverton, has been open for 1½ years to serve victims of domestic and sexual assault. Family Justice Center of Washington County is an independent private nonprofit whose mission is to provide services and hope to people impacted by family violence and sexual assault through the collaboration of agencies located here.
It is a one stop shop where a victim can see many agencies in one visit. Previously victims had to go from agency to agency and not necessarily know which agencies they may be eligible for services. When someone decides it’s time to leave an abusive relationship they typically are seeking immediate assistance. Here at the Family Justice Center a victim can come in for a restraining order, talk to a lawyer or DHS or law enforcement and appear in our remote court. A short assessment is done when the victim first comes to the Center to determine what services will best serve the client.
There are eleven agencies located at the Family Justice Center—Domestic Violence Resource Center, Sexual Assault Resource Center, Department of Human Services, Community Action, Oregon Law Center; Victim Rights Law Center, Hillsboro Police Department, Beaverton Police Department, Washington County Sheriff’s Office, Washington County Circuit Court and Voices Set Free.
The Family Justice Center is located at 735 SW 158th Avenue, Beaverton. The number to call for information is 503-430-8300. Hours of operation are Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m.–4:00 p.m, and on Fridays from 8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m. Calling ahead of time is a good idea as not all agencies are onsite every day.
“Why don’t they just leave?” is a question commonly asked about survivors of domestic violence. People asking this question are typically unaware of the inherent danger associated with leaving an abusive relationship and effective tactics perpetrators use to ensnare their significant others. During Domestic Violence (DV) Awareness Month, the Tigard Police Department (TPD), along with our partners in Washington County, want to raise awareness about the challenges survivors face and highlight the resources that can help them break free.
Because domestic violence is one of the most dangerous types of call, at least two Tigard officers respond to every incident. Officers must prepare for a volatile situation where the perpetrator may escalate or continue being violent well after they arrive. Drugs and alcohol, although not the cause of abuse, can exacerbate an already tense situation. If a victim is attempting to end the relationship, it is an especially precarious time. “When survivors try to leave, perpetrators may feel they have nothing to lose. There’s definitely a risk that they may kill their partners,” says Detective Kristan Rinell.
Even if it is not at that point, police visits can be challenging for survivors. One survivor told Detective Rinell, “I’ve been dealing with this for years and I know how to manage it. When you show up, it throws a monkey wrench into the mix.” If the abuser is released shortly after an arrest, the added risk of retaliation may dissuade them from cooperating in the future.
Abusers often isolate their partners, whittling away at their support network. Family and friends may be concerned for their own safety or grow weary of the being there for someone who continually returns to an abusive relationship. Detective Rinell recalls an abuser preventing grandparents from seeing their grandchildren for months after they tried to help their daughter leave him. They quickly learned to conform so they could stay connected. Survivors who have an enduring support system will fare better over the long run than those who become alienated over time.
If a person is financially dependent on an abuser and has kids, there may be insufficient resources to leave. It is a lot for the person to get a job, pay for rent, a deposit, furniture, provisions, and childcare.
Survivors often need emotional and financial support to leave an abusive relationship. Not only have they experienced the emotional and/or physical abuse, but they may also still care about that person. Their children may miss their parent, blame the survivor for breaking up the family, and will need a lot of support after witnessing and/or experiencing violence. Survivors may share custody with the perpetrator, further complicating their recovery.
Fortunately, there are social services in Washington County focused on survivors including:
- Domestic Violence Resource Center | 503-469-8620
- Family Justice Center | 503-430-8300
- Sexual Assault Resource Center | 503-640-5311
- Call to Safety | 503-235-5333
Tigard Police Detective Kristan Rinell likens domestic violence survivors to warriors. When they aren't fending off a physical attack, they’re strategizing ways to keep their environment safe, especially for their children, and planning for what may come next. Leaving an abusive relationship can take time, resources, and a lot of support; until then, they must endure an emotional and physical warzone.