Jan 202004
 
Authors: Jesse McLain

From presents to paid vacation, many effects of the holidays are

more than welcome. However, with the winter comes an added increase

in domestic violence.

“Tensions increase when it gets cold outside,” said Mary

Mesropian, executive director of Estes Valley Victim Advocates.

“In 2003 we saw 54 women, 42 children and four men,” Mesropian

said. “It definitely increased around the Christmas holidays.”

In Larimer County, the rise in domestic violence can have very

basic explanations.

“Money problems come up at Christmas time, one person will spend

more than the other,” said Eloise Camponella, press information

officer for the Larimer County Sheriff’s Department. “Relatives can

also cause problems, and there’s more drinking around the

holidays.”

Trish Thibodo, the executive director of the Colorado Coalition

Against Domestic Violence, has memories from her days of working in

a shelter.

“It seemed that come Christmas Eve and Christmas day things

started to fill up,” Thibodo said, but she pointed out that

domestic violence issues are a steady problem throughout the year.

“It impacts everyone all the time. It’s happening to our sisters,

our moms, our daughters.”

Statewide Colorado shelters took in 5,200 victims, but they were

forced to turn away close to double that amount due to lack of

space.

“About 10,000 had to be turned away,” Thibodo said. “Half of

them were children.”

Men who abuse women also abuse children 40 to 60 percent of the

time, according to the Center for the Prevention of Sexual and

Domestic Violence Web site.

The Web site also reports that one in five female high school

students reports having been physically or sexually abused by a

dating partner.

For Mesropian, one trend that causes concern is the decreasing

age of domestic violence perpetrators.

“We are seeing it in younger and younger kids,” Mesropian said.

“Younger women are seeing jealousy as ‘he really loves me.'”

As far as turning around the trend, Thibodo thinks more than

education is needed.

“We learn violence in our culture and it is socially

acceptable,” Thibodo said. “To have any change we have to have

shifting in our norms and values, the boys and the men committing

these acts have to change.”

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