Candlelight vigil puts a local focus on under-reported crime

Solemn placards, like this one, dotted the walkway at the Hikaru Mizu Japanese Garden at Four Rivers Cultural Center last week during a candlelight vigil to mark Domestic Violence Month. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell).

ONTARIO – Along the stone pathway inside the Hikaru Mizu Japanese Garden at Four Rivers Cultural Center, small, white placards stood.

Next to each placard was a pair of shoes. A red pair of women’s pumps. A pair of men’s tennis shoes. A tiny candle inside a blue container burned before each, a signal to mark another death from domestic abuse.

The somber displays stood as a centerpiece of the annual candlelight vigil on Thursday, Oct. 2, at the cultural center. The event, sponsored by Project DOVE, a local nonprofit that offers services to victims of domestic violence, attracted 25 people and included speeches from Steve Romero, Ontario Police chief, and Terry Basford, Project DOVE executive director.

The vigil was capped with each member of the crowd grasping a small, lighted candle. Then they walked out to the center of the garden and stood silent as Faith Origins Community pastor Tammy Vogt said a prayer.

Romero said domestic violence “crosses every gender, every age group.”

It is also expensive, said Romero. He said the annual cost of domestic violence in the United States is $8.3 billion.

“We are spending a lot of money on a senseless crime,” he said.

Basford told the crowd that domestic violence is not a “dinnertime conversation.”

“But perhaps it should be,” she said.

Nearly one in four women and one in seven men experience serious physical violence from an intimate partner at some point, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An intimate partner is anyone with whom a person has a close personal relationship and can be both current and former romantic partners.

Domestic violence also makes an impact on the workplace. According to the CDC, women in the U.S. lose almost eight million days of paid work – or the equivalent of 32,114 full-time jobs – each year because of domestic violence.

Basford said domestic violence is not just physical but “emotional, mental, financial and sexual.”

Dave Goldthorpe, Malheur County district attorney, is a member of the Project DOVE board and said last week domestic violence in Malheur County is a “big deal.”

“We get at least four in-custody domestic violence cases a week,” said Goldthorpe.

Goldthorpe said while alcohol and illegal narcotics play a role in domestic violence, other factors come in to play as well.

“Alcohol doesn’t make you magically violent. And it doesn’t make you have negative or controlling emotions toward your partner,” said Goldthorpe.

Domestic violence, he said, is not just a local problem.

“Any time our society teaches us it is OK to be controlling and manipulative over someone else, whatever the reason is, that is going to feed into the allowance of this kind of treatment of other people,” said Goldthorpe.

Goldthorpe said domestic violence needs to end and residents should not be afraid to help someone they know is a victim.

“It is one of the crimes people don’t want to talk about. That and child abuse. Sometimes they are one and the same. People who are not exposed to it don’t like to talk about it,” said Goldthorpe.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected] or 541-473-1003.


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