Portland Women’s Crisis Line celebrates 30th birthday during time of struggle

On Saturday, Nov. 1, the Portland Women’s Crisis Line will commemorate its 30th birthday with a celebration in Smith Memorial Student Union, Room 228, at 7 p.m.

In the early 1970’s, several women in the Portland community united to voice their concerns about a lack of resources for women. They then created the sexual assault hot line that became the crisis line in 1973. This was the first crisis line for women in Oregon and one of the first in the country.

“We have a really close relationship with PSU,” said Andrea Overbeck, volunteer coordinator for the crisis line. PSU’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) refers many students to its service, and volunteers involved with the line have spoken many times on campus.

The line gets approximately 10,000 calls a year and has about 50 phone volunteers and several paid specialists, and remains open 24 hours a day.

The crisis line receives calls for almost everything, but they mainly center around issues of domestic violence, child abuse, adults who were abused as children and loved ones of survivors. They also have advocates who go on-site to locations such as hospitals and police stations.

Most of the money for the crisis line comes from the government, but the organization is pushing for more diverse funding. With recent budget cuts, it has been forced to give over its restraining order advocacy to Volunteers of America and cut its support groups.

“It is the biggest challenge and struggle of the crisis line,” said Aimee Shattuck, coordinator at PSU’s WRC and a volunteer for the crisis line.

To raise more money, the organization will be starting a membership drive in January called “Friends of the Portland Women’s Crisis Line,” where people can donate a certain amount of money and then receive a newsletter and items like pens and ribbons.

Overbeck said, “The celebration is to recognize our struggle.”

The keynote speaker at the event will be Deborah Horton, who is part of the attorney general’s task force on sexual assault and a leading activist for ending violence against women.

The celebration will have a birthday theme, with different types of cakes at each table, a Mediterranean buffet and live classical music. Prizes, including a night at the Benson Hotel, a spa package and free tattoos, will be raffled off.

The event is free and open to anyone. Shattuck says the occasion is for any person who has been involved with the crisis line, wants to learn more about it or has been affected by it in the past 30 years.

Overbeck said, “It’s a way for people involved in women’s rights and oppression to take a stand.”

If you would like to volunteer for the crisis line, you can visit its Web site at http://www.pwcl.org or contact Andrea Overbeck at [email protected].