PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Tucked away off East Burnside is Multnomah County’s Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services. The center has a children’s playroom and a triage of services which helps connect survivors to housing, counseling, child care, legal services and more.

Senior Manager Alix Sanchez said the goal of the center is not only to meet people’s needs but to also meet survivors where they are.

Alix Sanchez, the senior manager for Multnomah County's Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services off East Burnside, January 1, 2023 (KOIN)
Alix Sanchez, the senior manager for Multnomah County’s Gateway Center for Domestic Violence Services off East Burnside, January 1, 2023 (KOIN)

“One of the most dangerous things that a survivor can do is leave. That is the time when the lethality of a relationship just skyrockets,” Sanchez told KOIN 6 News. “It’s when people are reaching out for services, when they are attempting to leave, when they’re attempting to make that break. It is a very delicate and dangerous time for survivors. And survivors are having to make that calculation often not just for themselves but for their kids.”

While the center’s services are still by appointment only, Sanchez said the remote model has allowed the center to provide more options and services to survivors.

“We really are seeing not necessarily an uptick in the prevalence of domestic violence but more people reaching out for support around domestic violence because their situations feel unmanageable,” Sanchez said. “As some of the supports for folks that were related to COVID start to go away, that stress starts to tick up.”

Recently the Clark County Sheriff’s Office said they saw more intimate partner murder-suicide in the last few months than in the last 3 years combined. Officials with the Portland Police Bureau said domestic violence was a factor in 15 of the 96 homicides in 2022.

If you or someone you know have experienced domestic or sexual violence,
you are not alone.
If you are not experiencing an emergency but need to talk to someone immediately, dial:
Call to Safety — 1.888.235.5333
Proyecto UNICA — 503.232.4448

“Tragically,” PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen said, “this is a persistent and vexing problem in our society. PPB continues working with its partners to help prevent such incidents and encourage reporting.”

Sanchez is clear that power and control are the root causes of domestic violence but said stress, anger and financial struggles often foster dangerous situations for survivors.

“When there are times of deep financial stress or uncertainty, as we really saw during the pandemic especially, folks experiencing just this cascade of stressors that really created for a lot of folks who maybe were in relationships where there was some power and control, some unhealthy dynamics happening, that those just really got exacerbated,” Sanchez said.

The recovery process is often longer for survivors individually than the community as a while, Sanchez said.. With rental assistance and other COVID-specific supports expiring, Sanchez told KOIN 6 News staff and advocates are growing concerned for what that means for people still in those relationships.