Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

Standing in Support of Sexual Violence Survivors

October 19, 2016

RESOLUTION No. Declare that no form of sexual violence should be tolerated and that Portland City Council stands in support of survivors of sexual assault and rape. (Resolution)

WHEREAS, the Department of Justice defines sexual assault as, “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. Falling under the definition of sexual assault are sexual activities as forced sexual intercourse, forcible sodomy, child molestation, incest, fondling, and attempted rape;” and

WHEREAS, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 288,820 Americans are raped or sexually assaulted every year. Of those victims, 90 percent are women. This means that one in five American women have been sexually assaulted or raped in their lifetime. Meanwhile, only three out of every 100 rapists will spend time in prison for their crimes; and

WHEREAS, on September 21, 2016, the Women’s Foundation of Oregon released a report “About Women and Girls in Oregon.” The study concludes that women in Oregon are raped and sexually assaulted at a much higher rate than the rest of the country: more than 50 percent, compared to the national average of 20 percent; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Justice estimates that less than 40 percent of rapes and sexual assaults are ever reported to police. This figure is largely attributed to a fear of retaliation, a belief that reporting the experience to police will not help, or that the crime is not “important enough” to warrant an official report; and

WHEREAS, a report published in the Violence Against Women journal in 2010 stated that of the 40 percent of rapes that are ever reported, less than 8 percent are considered “false;” and

WHEREAS, End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI) launched the “Start by Believing” public awareness campaign in April 2011 to create a positive community response to reports of sexual violence and rape by informing the public, uniting allies and supporters, and improving personal reactions—strategies that focus on changing the outcomes for survivors one response at a time; and

WHEREAS, there are many opportunities to get involved and support sexual assault survivors, including believing survivors who share their story, or by donating or volunteering with sexual assault advocacy organizations. The Multnomah County District Attorney’s Victims’ Assistance Program holds annual trainings for on-call Sexual Assault Victim Advocates, while local non-profits such as Call to Safety and the Sexual Assault Resource center can always use volunteers; and

WHEREAS, President Obama’s April 2016 National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month proclamation states:

“At our country's core is a basic belief in the inherent dignity of every person. Too many women and men of all ages suffer the outrage that is sexual assault, and too often, this crime is not condemned as loudly as it should be. Together, we must stand up and speak out to change the culture that questions the actions of victims, rather than those of their attackers. As their relatives, friends, neighbors, and fellow Americans, it's on us to support victims and survivors by providing them with the care they need, bringing perpetrators to justice, and ensuring our institutions are held responsible and do not look the other way. This month, we reaffirm our commitment to shift the attitudes that allow sexual assault to go unanswered and unpunished, and we redouble our efforts to prevent this human rights violation from happening in the first place;” and

WHEREAS, it is the responsibility of Portland’s leaders to build on national efforts and assure survivors that we believe you, and you are not alone.

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Portland City Council declares that no form of sexual violence should be tolerated, and stands in support of survivors. We call on others in Portland to do the same.