“We need to let people know in this community, and all communities, that this is not okay,” Siuslaw Outreach Services (SOS) Executive Director Bob Teter said in remarks after the annual SOS March for Domestic Violence Awareness on Sunday.
Students, community leaders and survivors marched through Historic Old Town Florence in silence to show support for survivors and victims, culminating in remarks on the Port of Siuslaw Boardwalk.
“We just take this opportunity to let the community know that there are people who care. That there is help,” Teter said.
SOS is the lead agency in Western Lane County to deal with domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking and elder abuse.
“But we also help people who lost their job or can’t pay for their rent, or are just struggling to find resources,” Teter said.
Over a third of the community, at one time or another, has sought the services of SOS.
“Almost every year, right after this event, someone comes to us who needs help out there, so this is really important to improving lives,” Teter said.
In recent years as the pandemic and economic stress has increased, so have requests for services.
“People are stressed to the max and taking it out on each other,” Teter said. “It’s not okay.”
While physical assault is most associated with domestic violence, he stressed it manifests in many ways.
“There’s economic control, or we’ve had clients who’ve come in who have been locked in their homes and couldn’t be with their families,” Teter said. “That’s what it all boils down to — control. They don’t feel like they’re in control, so they’re going to lash out and be in control.”
When someone tries to seek help from a situation, the need for control can get more pronounced.
“That’s when it’s most dangerous,” Teter said. “When the abuser feels like they’re losing control of the situation, they’re going to do anything they can to keep that control.”
But SOS can help guide people through that process.
“Let them know that there’s a safe place to get help,” Teter said. “We’re always available. We have a 24-hour crisis line, and the staff is available 24/7.”
If there’s resources SOS doesn’t have, such as helping abusers who want to break the cycle, SOS can get people in touch.
Teter thanked the staff, who “put their family life on hold when they’re on call and dealing with those,” along with the SOS board of directors.
“And the students, our future leaders. Our future is bright when you see things like this,” Teter said, addressing the several dozens who joined this year’s march.
To reach the SOS crisis line, contact 541-997-4444. For the general office, contact 541-997-2816.
More information could be found online at florencesos.org.
In October, in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Siuslaw News will publish an in-depth interview with Teter on SOS and the issues the resource is seeing in the community, and how to help.