by Sarah Mirk
How many people were killed by domestic violence this past year in Oregon? At least 40.
But the only domestic violence incident that's gotten national attention recently is this week's case of a SE Portland man choking his girlfriend with his dreadlocks. Many people have jumped on the temptation to spin this into an easy Portlandia joke, but when you think about the incident for more than one second, it's extremely sad. As I write in this week's sexual politics column, domestic violence is so common in America that the only way an assault makes headlines is if the boyfriend has a regrettable haircut.
This reminds me of the conversations we were having about media coverage of violence back during the week of the Clackamas Town Center shooting. Why is it more shocking when two random people are killed by a stranger in a mall than when two family members are killed by someone they know? When it comes to gut reactions, media coverage, and federal funding, tragedies are created distinctly unequal.
It's sickening that at the same time the federal government is talking all serious about stemming gun violence, Congress let the Violence Against Women Act expire. At least one in five homicides in Oregon are due to domestic violence. We can spend time and money banning high capacity ammunition magazines and assault rifles, but that will do nothing to save the lives of women afraid of one bullet from one gun who are turned away every day from Portland shelters because there's not funding for something as simple as a bed.