PORTLAND -- Three women are killed by their partners every day in the United States.

The numbers are staggering for the state of Oregon, too.

More than 40 women and children were killed by domestic violence in Oregon last year alone. And since January 2009, more than 150 women and children in Oregon have died as a result of domestic violence.

Often, victims say they feel lost with nowhere to turn. In a cry for help Wednesday, survivors and lawmakers said they were working to change the statistics.

I didn't plan on standing here. I didn't plan on this happening in my life, said domestic violence survivor Susan Peik.

Peik knows a thing or two about survival. For years, she endured an abusive relationship and said she couldn't find the help she needed.

It was in a very well-to-do community in a very prosperous locality. There was one domestic violence shelter with four bedrooms for the whole county [and it was] a huge county, said Peik.

She and her three children moved to Oregon to get away from the abuse many hundreds of miles away, said Peik.

On Valentine's Day, hundreds hit the streets of downtown Portland to draw attention to violence against women.

On Wednesday, Peik stood at a podium calling for action, drawing attention to stalled federal legislation called the Violence Against Women Act. It has passed the Senate and requires House passage.

Some House Republicans oppose parts of the bill, especially provisions that govern how non-Indians are prosecuted for domestic violence on tribal lands.

And so here I am starting over, fresh start, new life, Peik said. Domestic violence is like the elephant sitting on the metaphorical couch of our nation and humanity right now. It's happening all over the world.

Joining Peik was U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and other politicians and activists.

It's unacceptable not to reauthorize this bill, said Merkley. I think many people around the country are doing what we're doing here which is publicizing the fact that this bill cannot be allowed to die again in Congress.

Since 1994, these programs have cut the incidents of domestic violence by more than half. That is incredible when you think of the millions of lives touched, he said.

He said the law helps strengthen the legal action taken against abusers and provides services, including crisis centers and support programs for its victims, he said.

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