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.
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
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
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
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
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