Raphael House of Portland: Helping Survivors of Domestic Violence Find Safety, Hope and Independence

Raphael House_mother holding her newborn child

Over the past year in Multnomah County, one out of every seven women ages 18-64 has been physically abused by a partner. As a result, 21,000 children were exposed to domestic violence, half of them under the age of five. For more than 40 years, Raphael House of Portland has helped survivors of domestic violence find safety, hope and independence. The organization’s emergency shelter serves individuals and families fleeing intimate partner violence; they provide family-centered, culturally responsive, and gender-inclusive services for youth and adults. In addition to immediate safety and basic needs, survivors have access to ongoing programs and personalized support designed to help them achieve permanent housing, employment and long-term stability. Each year, Raphael House reaches 5,000 community members and survivors of domestic violence. In fact, their shelter currently provides more than 25% of the total bed space for domestic violence survivors in Multnomah County.

In August, OnPoint followed up last year’s employee giving campaign supporting Raphael House with a donation for their 2019 Gala. The Gala celebrates hope, safety, and stories of strength while raising critical funds to help survivors build a bright future free from domestic violence. The funds will support Raphael House programs, allowing the organization to work one-on-one with survivors and families to overcome barriers, connect them to appropriate community resources, and honor the voices and experiences of each individual. Raphael House is there for families throughout their journey from crisis to stability—often over many years—and offers a variety of support to assist families at all stages in this process.

Because leaving an abusive partner is the most dangerous time for survivors and their families, Raphael House’s shelter is in a confidential location—offering a safe haven is critical for adults and children fleeing abuse. For families staying at Raphael House, a unique Engagement Model helps track day-to-day successes as residents work toward larger goals, including economic stability, housing, employment and education. Raphael House’s Shelter to Stability (S2S) program further assists by removing financial and legal barriers to getting and staying housed. Thanks to these robust supports, 81% of families are in safe, stable housing a year after transitioning from the shelter and can focus on rebuilding their lives. We also have an OnPoint employee who volunteers her time teaching Financial Education to the Survivors are Worthy, Awesome and Gutsy (SWAG) group. This unique survivor-led mentorship group meets weekly to learn about life skills that help families stay housed.

Due to the personal and financial challenges caused by domestic violence, there is an immense need for consistent, long-term, and trauma-informed supports for each resident. That is why Raphael House also provides extensive follow-up services. Through the organization’s on-site Advocacy Center, current and past shelter residents have ongoing access to workshops, including tenant education and economic empowerment, employment assistance, support groups, wellness events, counseling, youth field trips, individualized advocacy, child and teen support, and culturally-specific services. Youth and Family Advocates also create an agency-wide environment where youth can thrive—working to help children process their experiences and develop skills that will allow them to navigate the world in healthy ways.

Raphael House_mother smiling with her two children

Raphael House’s approach goes far beyond providing shelter from crisis—evaluations by survivors describe Raphael House as a nurturing environment where individuals and families can be successful, thrive, and build a better future.

In the words of a recent shelter resident:

“Our stay at Raphael House changed our lives forever. It saved our lives! I accomplished my independence. I accomplished getting ‘Rent Ready’. I accomplished finding our home. I have been able to stay connected and still have support and resources available to me and the babies. All of this support KEEPS us healthy.”

You can learn more about Raphael House through their website, and if you would like to support its mission, you can donate here.

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