Oct 122003
 
Authors: James Baetke

The early evening rain began to drizzle across the stage in Old

Town Square Fort Collins. Women, one by one, took their turn at the

microphone speaking to a small crowd of onlookers about their

gratitude and strength through their own personal hell.

“I just want every one of you to know domestic violence isn’t

just about hitting,” said one woman who escaped her violent husband

after nine years of marriage.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and these women

spoke on Oct. 2 to help kick off efforts by Crossroads Safehouse.

Through the entire month of October Crossroads has organized events

to help raise awareness and funding whether it is by participating

in the CSU Homecoming Parade or by hosting fundraising events.

This vigil was hosted by Crossroads Safehouse, the only

safehouse in Larimer County to protect battered woman and children

from domestic violence.

Acting as a backdrop to the woman speakers was a clothesline

where white t-shirts hung, designed by local residents who have

looked domestic violence right in the eye.

One shirt was simply written in a sketchy black font reading: “I

was almost murdered in my house.”

Crossroad’s Executive Director Melissa Woodward told the crowd

that domestic violence was a “community problem.”

“These folks have literally been through hell,” Woodward said,

referring to the victims her shelter houses.

On that early October evening, woman gathered to tell their

personal stories of survival, many of who have fled to Crossroads.

Crossroads organizers said this event was designed to help

eliminate domestic violence in the community and to raise

awareness. Many of the speakers expressed their gratitude to

Crossroads for literally saving their lives.

One larger event scheduled this month is Dine Out to End

Domestic Violence. About 14 area restaurants are going to donate 20

percent of their total food sales on Oct. 22 to benefit battered

woman and children at Crossroads.

Some restaurants include Tailgate Tommy’s, 145 E. Mountain Ave.,

Pelican Fish, 3512 S. Mason St., and Rainbow Restaurant, 212 W.

Laurel St.

Coming soon are efforts from Johnny Carino’s Italian Kitchen,

4235 S. College Ave. The restaurant in planning to hold a charity

wine dinner to raise money for Crossroads.

“This is something we like to do each month by picking a worthy

charity. I think this sends a positive message to the community,”

said Troy Thayer, managing partner of Johnny Carino’s.

Thayer said the date has not been selected, but urges those

interested for more information to call 970-223-9445.

Crossroads first opened its doors in 1980. The facility was

comprised of one house with four bedrooms. Now, the safehouse is

made of two conjoined houses and contains 12 bedrooms with 27

beds.

Sarah Cook, Crossroads’ domestic violence awareness coordinator

and teen program coordinator, said, “Bringing our community

together for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is important because

domestic violence can no longer be considered a private matter. It

is a community issue and we are all affected by it.”

Cook strives for the reduction in domestic violence for personal

and communal reasons, she said. A victim of teen dating violence,

Cook experienced first hand accounts of sexual and physical abuse

from her boyfriend in high school. On the couple’s last encounter

with one another, Cook’s boyfriend planned on killing her and then

himself, she said. She convinced him otherwise and saved both their

lives.

Cook said working at Crossroads has been meaningful.

“It’s a passion,” she said. “For personal reasons but as well as

a community reason.”

The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites 62

domestic violence related deaths last year in Colorado, three of

which were children. Additionally, the coalition said 5,189 woman

and children stayed in domestic violence program’s shelters and

5,361 woman and children were turned away because program shelters

were at full capacity.

Domestic violence comes in many forms. It may be in the way of

physical, emotional, mental or psychological abuse. Although it is

widely thought that women are the only victims of domestic

violence, men are also victims.

Cook said 95 percent of reporters of domestic violence are women

while men make up the other 5 percent.

“Take all that back, statistics are what are recorded and we all

have secrets we don’t tell,” Cook said.

Crossroads receives the majority of its funding through the

United Way Agency. The shelter housed 348 women, last year donating

24,329 volunteer hours.

“Ninety percent of the time we are at capacity,” Woodward

said.

Women who are able to get into Crossroads are only allowed a

six-week stay. Throughout their stay they are encouraged to keep up

with daily chores and go through counseling sessions on a group and

individual level to help better understand the situation they are

in.

Housing and government support are available for the women, but

in some cases the women may go back to their abusive relationship

or “shelter hop,” Cook said. Cook said there are many reasons why a

woman may want to continue in a relationship or go back to one.

Money, children, religion or culture are all elements in why

women stay in the bad relationship, Cook said.

“Domestic violence is here, and as much as Fort Collins is the

choice city, there are crimes being committed every day,” Cook

said.

 

 

 

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