STATEMENT: Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Valerie Johnson

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, April 26, 2017
CONTACT: Chris Wilhite, (503) 557-5820,

Regarding the Domestic Violence Homicide of Valerie Johnson in SE Portland, Statement from Melissa Erlbaum, Executive Director at Clackamas Women’s Services

“We are truly heartbroken to learn about another senseless death in our state. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and community of Valerie Johnson. Valerie’s death marks the twentieth life lost to domestic violence in Oregon this calendar year. The murder of Valerie Johnson on Friday in SE Portland reminds us how important it is to work towards a society which is free of domestic violence.

“What we know about this case is that Valerie was a victim of strangulation. Strangulation has been identified as one of the most lethal forms of domestic violence and sexual assault. In fact, it is one of the best predictors for the subsequent homicide of victims of domestic violence. Using strangulation to silence their victims, abusers impose power and control which has devastating psychological effects on victims, in addition to the potentially fatal outcome. Because strangulation is often overlooked and minimized, victims are exposed to potential serious health impacts, further violence, and even death. To learn more about strangulation and domestic violence, please visit the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention’s website at

“Fortunately, Clackamas County has taken a coordinated approach to dealing with high risk domestic violence cases, including those that involve strangulation. In partnership with Clackamas Women’s Services, Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office follows the evidence-based Maryland Lethality Assessment Protocol (LAP). When responding to a domestic dispute, officers from all law enforcement jurisdictions in Clackamas County call the CWS crisis line on behalf of a victim, and act as a liaison to the CWS Advocate. The LAP screening tool is a series of questions that help determine if the situation is potentially lethal, including the use of strangulation.

“It can be hard to know how to support someone in an abusive and dangerous relationship. But non-judgmental love and respect from friends and family can be life-saving. Learn more at And help is available in the Portland Metro Area. In Clackamas County, Clackamas Women’s Services offers comprehensive, responsive solutions for adults and children impacted by domestic and sexual violence. The 24-hour crisis line is 888-654-2288. Call to Safety offers 24-hour phone assistance throughout the metro area in English at 503-235-5333 and El Program Hispano Católico offers the Linéa UNICA, a 24-hour Spanish-language crisis line at 503-232-4448. A Safe Place Family Justice Center in Clackamas County and The Gateway Center in Portland provide drop-in support Monday-Friday. In Vancouver, YWCA Clark County’s Safe Choice program provides 24-hour assistance at 360-695-0501.”


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