Victims of Crime Act (VOCA)

Bridges Oregon is Here for You!

Work with Bridges Oregon Advocate

Help you learn about victims and survivors’ rights

Access to accompaniment service to emergency, interview, legal, or medical

Legal matters and court appearances

Medical exams and appointments

Police and lawyer interviews

Oregon Dept. of Human Services (DHS)

e.g. assistance,
child welfare,
children & adults with disabilities,
and any other services

Bridges Oregon will help survivors whether the police are involved or not, no matter if they want to leave the abuser or not, no matter what. Bridges Oregon will work with survivors as long as they want, until they feel 100% safe. 

Bridges Oregon’s goal is to communicate to Deaf, DeafBlind, or hard of hearing survivors and their children that they can take control of their lives. Survivors have choices, and the information and assistance they need for empowerment and survival is available to them.

Crime victim or victim of crime means a person who has suffered physical, sexual, financial, or emotional harm as a result of the commission of a crime. You do not have to be “the” victim as you may experience being victim directly or indirectly, for example, your significant others, children, witness a situation, 

It can range from simple to complex situations, it does not matter what the level of seriousity of the victim experiences. Once you feel you are a victim, the VOCA Advocate is available.

  • Adult Physical Assault 
  • Adult Sexual Assault
  • Arson
  • Bullying (verbal, cyber or physical)
  • Burglary
  • Child Physical Abuse or Neglect
  • Child Sexual Abuse/Assault
  • Domestic and/or Family Violence
  • Driving Under Influence (DUI) 
  • Driving While Intoxicated (DWI)
  • Elder Abuse or Neglect
  • Hate Crime: racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, others
  • Identity Theft, Fraud, Financial Crime
  • Immigration
  • Kidnapping
  • Other Vehicular Victimization
  • Robbery
  • Stalking/Harassment
  • Survivors of Homicide Victims
  • Teen Dating Victimization
  • Violation of a Court Order

Based on the list, if you are not sure if you are a victim, you are more than welcome to contact the VOCA Advocate.

Domestic Abuse is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that is a pervasive life-threatening crime affecting people in all our communities regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, social standing, and immigration status. 

Domestic Violence is the violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.

There are not one type of violence but nine types of violence-

  • Physical Violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Emotional violence
  • Psychological violence
  • Spiritual violence
  • Cultural violence
  • Verbal abuse
  • Financial abuse

We consider Neglect as a form of violence as well.

Domestic Violence is the most common one. It encompasses all physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.

Is Domestic Violence always physical? No. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Unfortunately, Domestic Violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, gender, race, economic status, sexual orientation, religion, or nationality.

Everyone deserves relationships free from Domestic Violence. When you are ready, we’re here to listen and support you.

Sexual Assault- sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. The term, Sexual Assault, also means any nonconsensual sexual act proscribed by Federal, Tribal, or State Law, including when the victim lacks the capacity to consent. 

Force, what is Force? It does not necessarily always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics. 

It is also Sexual Assault if the victim is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or too young or mentally disabled to be legally able to agree to sexual contact.

Sexual Assault is never OK. Even if you’ve had sex before, You have the right to say, “NO” at any time. You also are allowed to change your mind at any time. If it’s happened to you, KNOW it is NOT your fault.

Sexual Assault & Sexual Abuse take many forms- they are any type of sexual encounter without a person’s consent, including:

  • Rape
  • Attempted Rape
  • Child Molestation
  • Inappropriate Touching
  • Incest (sexual contact between family members)
  • Voyeurism (when someone watches sexual acts)
  • Indecent Exposure
  • Sexual Harassment

Approximately ⅔ of the assaults are committed by someone known to the victims. 

  • 8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone known to the victim
  • An estimated 83% of women with disabilities will be sexually abused during their lifetime
  • Children who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing are 1.4 times more likely to be neglected & two times more likely to be physically abused

Deaf and Hard of Hearing children were found to be 1.4 times more likely to be neglected and twice as likely to be physically abused

Understand that this can happen to anyone. No matter who the victim is- woman, man, or child- it’s NEVER their fault. If it’s happened to you, know it is not your fault.

Teen Dating Violence is an adverse childhood experience that affects millions of young people in the U.S. Teen Dating Violence can take place in person, online or through technology. It’s a type of intimate partner violence that can include the following: physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression and stalking. 

This has a profound impact on lifelong health, opportunity, and well-being. Unhealthy relationships can start early & last a lifetime. Teens often think that behaviors such as teasing and name-calling are a “normal” part of a relationship, but these behaviors can easily become abusive and turn into serious forms of violence. 

Relational violence is more likely to begin and occur in younger years and it may perpetuate a cycle of abuse that continues through their young adulthood

Almost 1 in 5 high school students with disabilities report teen dating violence; 1 out of 4 girls report teen dating violence in contrast to 1 out of 10 boys

We are here to help, provide support and most of all, we’re ready to listen. None of this is your fault, nobody deserves to be abused.

The following services to be provided by our VOCA Advocate are:

  • Information & Referral
    • Information about the criminal justice process
    • Information about victim rights, how to obtain a notification, etc.
    • Referral to other victim service programs
    • Referral to other services, supports, and resources (includes legal, medical, faith-based organizations, address confidentiality programs, etc.)
  • Personal Advocacy and Accompaniment
    • Victim advocacy/accompaniment to emergency medical care
    • Victim advocacy/accompaniment to a medical forensic exam
    • Law enforcement interview advocacy/accompaniment  
    • Individual advocacy (assistance in applying for public benefits, return of personal property or effects)
    • Immigration Assistance (interpreting service)
    • Invention with employer, creditor, landlord, or academic institution
    • Oregon DHS interview advocacy/accompaniment

  • Criminal and Civil Justice System Assistance
    • Notification of criminal justice events (e.g., case status, arrest, court proceedings, case disposition, release, etc)
    • Victim Impact statement assistance
    • Civil legal assistance in obtaining protection or restraining order
    • Civil legal assistance with family law issues (e.g., custody, visitation, or support)
    • Prosecution interview advocacy/accompaniment (includes accompaniment with prosecuting attorney and with victim/witness)
    • Law enforcement interview advocacy/accompaniment
    • Criminal advocacy/accompaniment

If you have any questions or in need of assistance, the VOCA Advocate is available to connect with you.

Soft cream blue background with bold pink title that reads

“Julie EC Announcement” Video Transcript (PDF, txt)

“Julie EC FAQ” Video Transcript (PDF, txt)

Click here to learn more about the Julie Emergency Contraceptive

Bridges Policies and Practices for Emergency Contraception Access and Administration (PDF, txt)

Life can be challenging. Everyone needs a support system or safe place to just be themselves. Bridges Oregon is here to support you in defining what a safe space means for you and finding what you need to get there.

You have a right to be safe! You can slowly collect these items and papers while you are thinking of leaving, and you can store them in a safe place until you leave. Here is what you can do if you are thinking of leaving.

Pack in your suitcase – keep the suitcase in a safe place such as with a family member, friend or neighbor.

  • A change of clothes for you and your children
  • Prescription medications.
  • An extra set of keys to your car and your home.
  • Your child’s favorite toys.

Gather important documents to be kept in an easy to locate and safe place.


  • Driver’s license
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • Your birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Welfare identification


  • Money and/or credit cards
  • Bank books
  • Checkbooks (if possible, set up your own secret bank account and start saving money in it)

Legal Papers

Some of these can just be copies.

  • Your relief from abuse order
  • Divorce papers
  • Custody papers
  • Lease, rental agreement, house deed
  • Car registration & insurance papers
  • Medical records for you and children
  • Work permits/Green Card/visa
  • Passport


  • House & car keys
  • Medications
  • Address book
  • Change of clothes for you and children

Know where you will go ahead of time.

Don’t be afraid to call the police.

Abuse is a crime, even if you are living with the abuser. Legal involvement is often the only way that you can be sure that the abuser will get the help that they need.


  • Safety Plan for Transgender/Gender Variant Individuals (PDF)
  • Teen Safety Plan (PDF)

Oregon Department of Justice Victims Rights Guide (link)

Oregon Statewide Crime Victims Rights (link)

Marion County Crime Victims Rights (link)

Polk County Crime Victims Rights (link)

Power and Control Wheel (PDF)

LGBTQ Power and Control Wheel (PDF)

Trans-Specific Power and Control Tactics (PDF)

Teen Power and Control Wheel (PDF)


  • Client Satisfaction Survey (link)
  • Client Grievance (PDF)
  • Consent to Communication (PDF) (Spanish)
  • Motel Stay Form (PDF) (Spanish)
  • Release of Information (PDF)


  • Bridges Oregon Advocacy Brochure (PDF)
  • Bridges Oregon Advocacy Brochure – Text description (txt)
  • Bridges Oregon Advocacy Brochure [Spanish] (PDF)
  • Bridges Oregon Advocacy Brochure – Text description [Spanish] (txt)

Hay más contenido en español en vías de desarrollo para un futuro cercano. Por favor, ¡vuelva a visitar el sitio pronto!
Translation: There is more content in Spanish in development for the near future. Please check back soon!

The Community-Based Needs Assessment that was published by the Research and Resource Center with Deaf communities (RRCD) at Western Oregon University. Findings included that: a) over half (56.3%, n=419) of respondents have experienced taunts about their hearing loss or how they communicate during their lives, b) 38.9% (n=286) of respondents have experienced verbal/non-verbal threats, c) 29.9% (n=219) of respondents have experienced the subject of sexual comments or features, d) 29.2%(n=214) of respondents have experienced physically impeding/blocking behavior, e) 28% (n=207) of respondents have experienced being hit, slapped, or pushed, f) 22% (n=162) of respondents have experienced belittling/taunts about religion or race and finally, g) 14% (n=103) of respondents have experienced being threatened with a weapon. (Community-Based Needs Assessment (CNA) of Oregon’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Communities: Final Report as of December 30, 2016.)

  • Debra Guthmann, a former president of the National Association on Alcohol, Drugs, and Disability, estimates that 1 in 7 Deaf people in the United States suffers from substance dependency compared to 1 in 10 hearing people (Hearing Health, 2013).
  • Much of the research detailing sexual assault in the Deaf population has focused on intimate partner violence (IPV) and has found that Deaf women are 2 to 4 times more likely than hearing women to experience forced sex in their lifetime (Pollard, Sutter, & Cerullli, 2013).
  • An article from American Annals of the Deaf in 1987, written by McKay Vernon and his colleagues that “it is estimated that 50% of the Deaf community has been sexually abused as children.” The same group of authors reported 54% of Deaf boys were sexually abused in comparison to only 10% of hearing boys.”  (link)
  • In a separate report published by US DOJ, “only 5% of Deaf rape survivors report their assaults to police and 5% reach out for support from rape crisis centers. This is believed to be because of the communication barrier and culture clash faced when seeking help from services that cater to hearing individuals” (2000).
  • “Deaf prisoners are abused at three times the rate of hearing prisoners.” (Vernon, 2005).
  • DeafQueer Resource Center reported 10% of Deaf community members are LGBTIQA+. (link)  
  • The Deaf community has a close knit bond; many deaf survivors have a concern for privacy and anonymity when so much of their personal life is shared amongst their peers. (2007)
    Taylor, Lauren R. , Gaskin-Laniyan Nicole, Ph.D., “Study Reveals Unique Issues Faced by Deaf Victims of Sexual Assault”, National Institute of Justice, 2007.
  • Reliance on interpreters opens a host of problems as many sexual assault survivors feel like their private experiences are not correctly represented and feel uncomfortable reporting their assault to a stranger outside of their community. (link)
    Obinna, J., Krueger, S., Osterbaan, C., Sadusky, J.M., & DeVore, W., “Understanding the Needs of the Victims of Sexual Assault in the Deaf Community”, US Department of Justice, 2006.
  • Deaf survivors of sexual assault face a multitude of barriers and stereotypes when choosing to report. Some of these barriers include: linguistic barriers with the general hearing population, limited access to media information and resources, lack of knowledge and skills by services providers, lack of TTY, relay services and interpreters available, and bias and exclusion from general hearing population. (link)
    Obinna, J., Krueger, S., Osterbaan, C., Sadusky, J.M., & DeVore, W., “Understanding the Needs of the Victims of Sexual Assault in the Deaf Community”, US Department of Justice, 2006.

Closed-Captioning is available on YouTube Video
Video Transcript in TXT: Click here
Video Transcript in PDF: Click here

June 8, 2021 Event Flyer
Image: Click here
PDF: Click here
TXT: Click here

PowerPoint Presentation in PDF: Click here
PowerPoint Presentation in TXT: Click here

Oregon DOJ 3rd Annual Community Conversations
July 21, 2021: Deaf and Hard of Hearing
ASL Interpreter and Captioning are available
PDF: Click here
Website: Click here

Contact Our Advocates

Al Mascarenas
Deaf / he, him, his

Domestic and Sexual Assault Services
Advocacy Department

direct/VP: (971) 402-9181
text/FT: (971) 707-1881
(Download business card: PDF, txt)

Callia Berg, BA
 Hearing / she, her, hers

Hard of Hearing Advocate
Domestic and Sexual Assault Services
Advocacy Department

VP: (971) 345-4935
voice/text/FT: (971) 707-3743
(Download business card: PDF, txt)

Nicholas Miles,
Deaf / he, him, his

Domestic and Sexual Assault Services
Advocacy Department

direct/VP: (503) 983-7550
text/FT: (971) 707-3142
(Download business card: PDF, txt)

Sammi Weethee
Deaf / she, her, hers

DV/SA Advocacy Services

direct/VP: (971) 800-6250
text/FT: (971) 444-0564
(Download business card: PDF, txt)

During business hours, you can reach a Bridges Oregon advocate by Phone/VP at (971) 800-6250 or through the contact form below.

Please note that all Bridges Oregon staff members are Deaf and communicate using American Sign Language (ASL). If you are placing a voice call, you will automatically connect to a free and confidential Video Relay Service (VRS) interpreter. The interpreter will facilitate the call between you and our staff (or you may be prompted to leave a message, which we will receive as a video recording notification). 

If you need immediate emergency assistance,
please call or text 9-1-1.

If you need immediate emergency assistance, please call or text 9-1-1.

If you need crisis support after hours, please contact the National Deaf Domestic Violence Hotline at (855) 812-1001.

1. This advocacy and accompaniment services is supported by federal Victims of Crime Act Award no. VOCA-CS-2021-BridgesOregon-00023 awarded by Oregon Department of Justice, Crime Victim and Survivor Services Division, pass through entity for US Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime.

2. This advocacy and accompaniment services is supported by federal Office on Violence Against Women awarded by United States Department of Justice.

3. This advocacy and accompaniment services is supported by ODHS Domestic Violence Survivor Program awarded by Oregon Department of Human Services, Self-Sufficiency Program.