Bed Bug Resistant Mattresses at Shelter

A post written by Kristi Smith, Bradley Angle’s Shelter Manager.

Bed bugs!  Those little guys create big time problems for folks once they take residence in mattresses, fabric couches, wooden bed frames etc.  It has been reported that bed bugs are becoming more common in our city and can be picked up with very little effort while just commuting to work on the Max or finding a new treasure at a vintage store.  As you can imagine, if bed bugs show up in shelters, there is no easy, or quick, solutions.

Domestic Violence shelters are no different in the havoc that bed bugs can create, but what can be different is the emotional impact that can have on survivors.  Of course, being concerned for one’s safety is very important, but the kind of impact I am talking about goes even deeper.  We have learned and are reminded very often in this work that survivors of domestic violence crave sacred space.  Space that is theirs and free of the trauma that brought them to shelter in the first place.  For many people who enter these doors, their personal rooms become their sacred space to be free of violence.

Recently we were able to do a little proactive work to help prevent families from being displaced if we suspect bed bugs in survivors’ rooms.  Bradley Angle was able to purchase 19 bed bug resistant mattresses and replace every mattress we have at shelter.  This is a really incredible gift and we are so thankful for the grant to be able to do this for our participants.  Not only does this put people’s minds at ease, but it also helps survivors create safe, healthy, sacred places for themselves and their children.  This doesn’t mean that folks will never have to experience the discomfort of having to rearrange rooms or move folks in shelter, but any way of eliminating added trauma is a fantastic step forward.

We’re Here If You Need Us

This post was written by our Community Based Services Manager, Kiera Hansen.

To our beloved community,

In the wake of the tragic event in Orlando this weekend, all of us at Bradley Angle want you to know that we understand deeply the pain, loss, and trauma such a violent expression of hate can trigger. These events can be especially triggering for those of us whose personal histories include surviving violence.

We recognize that LGBTQ communities, especially LGBTQ Communities of Color, experience violence on a daily basis and large-scale acts of hate, such as the one this weekend, remind us that there is much work to be done.

We acknowledge the disproportionate impact this act will continue to have on queer Muslim and Latinx communities. We would like you to know we are committed to ending both systemic and interpersonal violence that all LGBTQ individuals experience. Additionally, we would like to offer our support to those who would like it.

If you would like support, please contact me, Kiera Hansen, to speak with myself or Meg Panichelli, our Interim LGBTQ Program Coordinator.  Both of us are LGBTQ-identified and at least one of us is available Monday- Friday, 9am-4pm. My phone number is 503-595-9591 ext. 323 and my email address is KieraH@bradleyangle.org.

Let’s support one another during Pride. Come mingle with our staff at the Trans Family Picnic on Friday, the Portland Trans Pride March on Saturday or stop by our Pride booth at the Waterfront (Booth L5). The staff representing Bradley Angle at these events are Queer and/or Trans-identified and are trained domestic and sexual violence advocates.

With big queer love in our hearts,

Kiera Hansen
Community Based Services Manager

A Gift of Love

This post was written by Bradley Angle volunteers, Kaaren Pixton and Melody Aanderud.

kaaren & melodyDear Bradley Angle Community,

We are a part of a group of Mormon women and teenage girls who wanted to do something to make a difference for people in our broader community. There seems to have been some inspiration involved because when we approached Bradley Angle, you just happened to have a dream that included a mural for a healing garden.

We  worked together to develop the concept.

I, Kaaren Pixton, have had a long career working in schools and the community as an artist-in-residence.  This has included many mural installations.  I passionately believe in the power of community art and am currently focusing professionally on children’s book writing and illustration.

And I, Melody Aanderud, have painted murals for churches, schools and homes. Professionally, I have worked for several large corporations to design sales offices, cafes and stores around the world.  Recently I have focused on home and office remodel projects.  My passion lies in creating inspiring spaces and artwork to go in them.
design work
We decided on the theme of a meadow thinking it would be both peaceful and full of life.  We created the design that was outlined like a grown-up coloring book.  There was help from other artists as this was transferred onto wooden “tiles” carefully cut and numbered by Francis.

Seventy five women and girls showed up on the painting night.  We had to ask mothers and daughters to work together because there were only sixty eight tiles.  It was an amazing experience of giving and cooperation.  We feel a sense of wonder and gratitude at how it all worked out (considering we hadn’t done anything quite like this before.)

It is a gift of love.  We hope it brings some peace and joy to the survivors who will look upon it.

Sincerely,
Kaaren & Melody

A Visit to Ferguson

This post was written by Angela Frazier, our Grants and Communications Coordinator.

It was only a year ago when Michael Brown, an 18 year old African American male was fatally shot by a white police officer. Many of us have seen heart breaking news footage of these cases time after time. It is hard enough to see it in the media but a completely different feeling to visit the location where a fatal shooting has taken place. November 2015 I built up the courage to visit Ferguson, Missouri. I wanted to see firsthand where this took place and allow myself to grieve the killing of another unarmed black male. Visiting Ferguson allowed me to do just that.

We are well aware of these incidents and how unarmed black men are not safe in their own communities. Unfortunately, this is similar to how domestic violence survivors aren’t safe within their own home. This has been some of the driving force of why I am so passionate about the work that I do here at Bradley Angle. I know that I am working for a nonprofit that is making a great impact in the domestic violence world. Everyday focusing on creating a community free of domestic violence.

As a result of visiting Ferguson, I have taken the time to read more about public health and its relation to police shootings. I came across an article, Police-related killings are countable public health data. An article that details public health issues and how police related killings need to be recognized as a public health concern.

Several instances of police violence over the past years in the U.S. are clear examples of law-enforcement-related harms to the public’s health. The goal of public health is to protect and improve the health of the entire population so why aren’t we recording police related killings in public health datasets?

Read more on Police-related killings are countable public health data here.

Transgender Day of Resilience

Written by tash shatz our LGBTQ Program Coordinator.
This Friday, November 20th is Trans Day of Remembrance. This day was founded in 1998 to honor those killed by anti-transgender violence. While more and more education about trans people has reached the mainstream this year, we know that at least 20 trans women have been murdered so far in 2015, most of them were women of color and many were killed by intimate partners.
This Friday evening from 7-9pm, a Trans Day of Remembrance event will be happening at the PCC Cascade Moriarty Arts Building (705 N. Killingsworth Street.) The event is free, features speakers and performers, and all are welcome to attend. I’ll be there, so please let me know if you want to join and I can save you a seat. More info about the event here.
And if you can’t make it to the PCC event, Trans Day of Remembrance is an important reminder about how all of the types of violence we work on intersect. And it reminds me of the incredible resilience of survivors of violence (such as this amazing Trans Day of Resilience Art Project!).

Health Starts with Housing

This post was written by Megan Smith, our Housing Program Coordinator.
When we talk about supporting the health of survivors of domestic violence, the conversation must include access to housing. Having a safe and stable place to call home provides the foundation for mental and physical well being.  Conversely, housing instability and homelessness, just like domestic violence, are health risks, exacerbate existing health issues and limit access or utilization of routine health care.  In fact, 48% of domestic violence survivors in Oregon choose to remain in abusive relationships, despite the impact on their health and safety, because of a lack of affordable housing options.
Only when housing needs are met can survivors focus on addressing chronic health concerns, the impact of trauma and stress, and preventative health care.  Many survivors in the Housing Assistance Program delay addressing physical and mental health concerns until they have found a stable place to live.  However, affordable housing options are limited and delaying health interventions while seeking housing stability can have  long term consequences for recovery. As advocates, we need to support survivors in prioritizing and accessing healthcare. As as community, we must push our elected leaders to create more affordable and accessible housing options for survivors.  Please join Bradley Angle in supporting the efforts of the Welcome Home Coalition, a broad-based, grassroots effort to address the need for affordable housing in our area.

The Health Effects of Domestic Violence

This post was written by Renee Anderson, our Youth & Family Program Manager.

Many adult survivors of trauma do not identify historical trauma as the reason they are seeking support when they show up at our door. They discuss domestic violence in their current relationship and difficulties they might be facing maintaining stable housing. They may complain of depression or anxiety. They may suffer from physical ailments such as headaches, muscle pains, or stomachaches. Sometimes they report difficulty forming relationships, obtaining employment or that they use substances more than they feel comfortable admitting. It is very rare that adult survivors of trauma are linking current difficulties to abuse they experienced a long time ago.

The ACES study (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study) has found incredible correlations between childhood trauma and the increased risks of suffering from physical health, mental health and adverse societal issues as adults.  The evidence proves that children who have repeated exposure to trauma and violence impacts their brain development and increases the risk of serious health problems, mental health issues, and risky behavior later in life. Children exposed to violence are more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol; suffer from depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress; fail or have difficulty in school; and engage in criminal activity. Often, children who display such behaviors are written off as “bad kids,” when in fact those behaviors are symptoms of trauma. With the right supports, children and youth impacted by violence can thrive and lead healthy lives into their adulthood.

There are things we can all do today to help children exposed to violence and trauma. By committing to being a reliable and friendly presence in the life of a child, you are making a meaningful impact. Bradley Angle is a leader in our community for providing supportive services to adult survivors of trauma and their children in an effort to break the intergenerational cycle of trauma and violence. Learn more about Bradley Angle’s Youth & Family Program here.

To learn more about The ACES study, click here.

Healthy Hearts: Staying Healthy While Supporting Survivors

This post was written by tash shatz, our LGBTQ Program Coordinator.

As interpersonal violence (IPV) advocates* many of us are taught to use survivor-centered practices. It’s one of my favorite things about being an advocate: we work hard to put survivors at the center of our work. We believe survivors are capable. We strive to be non-judgmental, to practice patience, to focus on the strengths of each individual, and to be spacious in the options we offer.

But we don’t always bring that same presence to ourselves and our coworkers or fellow volunteers. It can be challenging and isolating to work in an under-resourced system. It can be hard to constantly extend our best selves to people in their worst moments. It can be heartbreaking and mentally overwhelming to reckon with the epidemic of violence that our communities face. It makes sense that many of us struggle to be kind to our coworkers, to our friends and families, and to ourselves.

My own journey of staying healthy while supporting survivors is in progress, and one thing I’ve learned is that staying healthy is not just physical, but also mental and emotional. Here are some things I’ve been thinking about and trying to practice:

  • Treating coworkers and volunteers with reverence. Just as we try to extend our best selves to survivors, we can do this with one another. Especially remembering that many of us come to the work as survivors or with loved ones who are survivors, we can treat each other with respect and humility while nurturing each other’s growth. We can take a trauma-informed approach with one another as well as with participants/clients.
  • Creating a work environment that feels healthy. While providing vegetables and pedometers in our workplaces can be fantastic, a healthy work environment also means *feeling* like we have the space to do what’s healthy for us. Are we giving each other time to take breaks? Are we bragging about how late we stayed at the office? Are we judging our coworker’s de-stress routine of eating chili fries and marathon watching soap operas? When we practice challenging the belief that “healthy” means only one thing and involves only specific activities, we can avoid judgement and shame, and instead cultivate variety and possibility.
  • Building opportunities to nurture our passion and strengths. How are we bringing joy and creativity to our work as advocates? Are we nurturing new ideas and innovations? Many of us have talents beyond our job descriptions – are we creating ways for one another to do the things we’re best at? Just as we strive to support the strengths of survivors, we can bring our strengths and those of our coworkers into our everyday.

These are just a few of the reflections I have, and I have much more to learn What are you doing to cultivate your health while supporting survivors? Join the conversation in the comments below.

*For the purposes of this post, I use IPV to refer to interpersonal violence which includes intimate partner violence, domestic violence, sexual violence, family violence, and all other types of interpersonal violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This post was written by Deborah Steinkopf, our Executive Director.

Today marks the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and I invite you to take a stand for survivors and their families. Take a stand this October by showing up at one of the many events Bradley Angle and our community partners have planned to learn more about domestic violence in our community, honor survivors, gather with others who want to make a difference, and celebrate the important work of organizations like Bradley Angle. There’s something for everyone.

You can join us for some edgy fun at Super!Drag at Darcelle XV Showcase on October 9 for the annual happy hour drag show to benefit Bradley Angle. For the more literary among you, come help us celebrate our 40th Anniversary at the Wild Lunch with Cheryl Strayed on October 29. To hear more about the experiences of survivors in our community, join Bradley Angle and community partners for the City Club’s Friday Forum on October 30.

The United States commemorated its first Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1987, 12 years after Bradley Angle opened the West Coast’s first domestic violence shelter. In the 40 years since opening our doors, we know the need for our emergency and supportive services is more critical than ever. Our community has a shortage of housing, affordable childcare, living-wage jobs, almost every resource survivors need to get and stay safe. We need to do better.

And on this first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are proud to announce that we are taking two steps toward more liveable wages in Oregon. We have taken two steps:

  1. We have officially endorsed the Raise the Wage movement in Oregon AND
  2. We have raised our own minimum wage to $15 an hour

We wouldn’t have been able to raise our wage without support from people like you. Please allow us to thank you by joining us for an event this October.