By David Courtland
Pilot Staff Writer
Braving a chilly night, public officials and advocates for domestic violence victims held a candlelight vigil on the Port of Brookings-Harbor boardwalk Saturday.
"I want to talk about hope," Curry County Commissioner Rachelle Schaaf told the small crowd, "the hope that one more woman will find the strength to get up and leave."
A woman is typically beaten an average of five to seven times before she takes the step of getting help, said Schaaf, concluding with Veronica Shoffstall's poem "After a While."
Sheriff Kent Owens noted that when he began his career in law enforcement, there were no laws written to specifically address domestic violence.
"A woman had to file a complaint, and more often than not wouldn't to avoid getting beaten," said Owens. "It was frustrating for us because we knew we would be going back to that address."
Now law enforcement officers are authorized to make arrests on their own if they see evidence of injury, said Owens, who noted his office has had 100 domestic violence calls this month.
Domestic violence calls are among the riskiest an officer is asked to respond to, said Owens, recalling two officers he had known who had been killed while answering them.
Alice Maybee, director of the Gold Beach women's crisis shelter Oasis House, added the list of sobering statistics.
"We've had 85 victims with 96 children go through Oasis House this year," said Maybee, adding that of 86 sexual assaults the shelter dealt with this year, 76 stemmed from domestic violence.
Several members of the Brookings-Harbor High School Choir performed songs at the vigil, which was sponsored by Oasis House.
Other speakers included Curry County Commissioner Lucie La Bont, who recalled being among the group of people who established the shelter for battered women seven years ago.
"I want to say it was a very brave group of people that included a few men," said La Bont.
"I just am so grateful there is a place for those women to go."