As October is Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, it’s essential to recognize that Chaffee County has problems with domestic violence as every county does in the United States. It has, unfortunately, become an epidemic throughout this nation. The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex (male) partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the number of casualties lost during the war.

Women are much more likely to be victims of intimate partner violence, with 85 percent of domestic abuse victims being women and 15 percent men. Too many women have been held captive by domestic violence — whether through physical abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse or a combination of all three (4.8 million). These numbers show that domestic violence is an epidemic.

Despite the prominence of domestic violence, it is difficult as a community to start conversations about it.

You may know many people who have been affected by domestic violence in some way. Justice.gov defines domestic abuse as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”

A person can’t always tell if someone they know is being abused and traumatized. Sometimes the signs are not noticeable, and they need our support. For example, if you have ever had a friendship where another person used their strength or power against you, to make you feel like you had lost control, you have experienced domestic violence.

Domestic violence is everything from severe bullying to emotional, financial, verbal, physical, and even sexual abuse of a partner by another partner. Sometimes the signs are noticeable, and sometimes they are totally invisible. Regardless of visibility, the impact on victims and our community as a whole is genuine.

Oftentimes, the victims hide the signs of their distress, either to not seem weak or vulnerable in front of family and friends, or out of fear, or because they do not even know which way to turn next. These victims are real, what they are experiencing is real, and they need their voices to be heard.

October is a month dedicated to hearing the message that domestic violence is an epidemic, and everyone deserves a life free of violence and supportive services to meet their needs. Local and national organizations all over the country create campaigns to equip, assist and empower those people affected.

In Chaffee County, support by The Alliance includes: providing a safe place to live, legal assistance, 24-hour crisis intervention, emergency housing, transitional and long term housing, sexual assault services and support, outreach and education programs. Also, individual peer counseling, information and referrals, Latino outreach services and financial support. Youth services are also available. Not only is the goal of organizations like The Alliance to help victims and survivors, but they also strive to help educate the community and change the statistics.

The only way that this epidemic will ever be truly recognized is if it is talked about. Domestic violence happens very close to home, and it is not always easy to see, feel, or even define to someone else. Domestic violence occurs in intimate settings away from doctors with physical proof and away from friends and family who can show support through treatment visits and patience.

Domestic violence is often quiet, and it generates a very fragile conversation. The victim themselves may feel too scared even to mention it. And, as it is with most things in this world if someone can’t see or feel it, it becomes hard for them to understand it. Silence Hides Violence.. please, if you see something, say something…

Janine Stovall B.A. CAC I

Licensed Colorado Advocate

719-539-7347

jstovall@alliancechaffee.org

Cited from: silencehidesviolence.webs.com