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Help stop domestic violence.

Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Shelly Bosworth For The Register-Guard

You know them because of a short item in the City/Region section of the March 13 Register-Guard, just another domestic violence murder-suicide in Springfield.

We knew Bryan and Sarada Malakoff by their nicknames, Sofa and Scratchy.

Sofa made us laugh until tears ran down our cheeks. They were married at the Owen Rose Garden. We danced with our children at the reception. Sarada was on our Hood-to-Coast relay team. They were our friends.

They always seemed as normal as the rest of us. We are shocked. Appalled. Bryan has us crying again.

Besides mourning, we ask ourselves what we could have done to prevent the tragedy on March 11, when Bryan Malakoff killed Sarada and then turned the gun on himself. Did friends who saw or heard intimidating and controlling behavior say, ``This is not acceptable''? Would it have mattered?

To my knowledge, Bryan did not isolate Sarada from her friends. I do not know if he isolated her from her family. If he had, did we show Sarada that we cared about her, that she had value and that we supported her?

As a coping mechanism, we are learning more about domestic violence. We still do not know what happened, prior to the ultimate act of control. It is difficult to merge the Bryan and Sarada described in The Register-Guard's articles with the people we knew so well as Sofa and Scratchy.

Chilling facts: This is the second domestic violence murder-suicide in Eugene since September 2005 and the second domestic homicide since December 2005.

As governments struggle to prioritize which services will be included in their shrinking budgets, funding for domestic violence education and prevention has been cut on a multitude of levels. The most recent insult: Misdemeanor domestic violence offenders in Lane County will no longer be supervised by a probation officer for compliance with treatment or no-contact orders. Most domestic violence offenses are misdemeanors, and supervision helps protect victims.

Domestic violence is most likely to be lethal when the relationship ends. Victims know this. That is why many victims stay. Our community needs to know this, too, so we can support victims as they try to leave. So we can help prevent tragedies like this from becoming so commonplace that they fade into the background as a mere side story in The Register-Guard's City/Region section - and in the community's conscience.

Some help is available. Would a program that teaches perpetrators of domestic violence to change their behavior have saved Sarada? Would a restraining order have made a difference? For the many people who knew and liked Sarada and Bryan, who are asking ourselves, "What could we have done?" the volunteers staffing the WomenSpace 24-hour hot line (800-281-2800) may be helpful.

Services, such as From Violence to Nurturing by Options Counseling Services, NOVA - Nonviolent Alternatives - by Addiction Counseling & Education Services, and Christians Addressing Family Abuse, might have saved Sarada.

But to honor Sarada, and other women like her, we need a long-term solution. Private donations to domestic violence service organizations and shelters are a good start. However, it is March, and I am thinking about how much money I am giving to the state of Oregon this year. Maybe we can make a difference by creating a fund for political action - DV-PAC, to which the first $100 of political donations would be tax-deductible - to remind our elected officials what an important issue this is. Because tragedies like this are preventable.

Shelly Bosworth and 16 co-signers are members of the running group where the Malakoffs met. After March 24, donations can be made directly to the Sarata Malakoff DV-PAC account at Pacific Cascade Federal Credit Union. Until then, the DV-PAC is a subaccount under Shelly Bosworth.
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Title Annotation:Columns
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Article Type:Column
Date:Mar 19, 2006
Previous Article:Deepening losses.

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