Oct 212007
 
Authors: Cece Wildeman

In accordance with national Domestic Violence Awareness month, local safehouses and authorities are working to educate the public on the violence that affects thousands of households each year.

In the United States, one in four women experience some form of domestic abuse as an adult, while one in 14 men experience the same types of abuse, according to the Department of Justice Web site. Studies show that young women and women living in poverty are the most common victims of domestic violence.

Many stereotypes portray domestic violence victims as women with black eyes and broken bones. While many victims experience physical abuse, there are other forms of domestic abuse.

Domestic violence is defined as physical, emotional or sexual abuse by a current or former intimate partner.

“Warning signs of an abusive partner may include, but are not limited to, possessiveness, extreme jealousy, pressure to marry or move in together, persistent badgering, or destruction of partner’s property,” according to the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.

In Colorado, there were more than 12,000 domestic violence victims in 2006. The Crossroads Safehouse, a local victim’s aid facility, sheltered 515 of them.

At Crossroads, many, but not all, of the victims have been subject to physical abuse, said Marcy Foster, a youth advocate at Crossroads.

Locally, domestic violence victims usually come from two familial categories, according to the Probation Office of Larimer and Jackson Counties.

Generally, half of abused women come from very conservative homes where it is morally wrong to end a marriage, and where the woman’s responsibility is to keep her husband happy at all costs. The other half of abused women usually come from violent homes where marriage is a form of escape, even if their husband is a tyrant.

Paul Cooper, chief parole officer at the Probation Office of Larimer and Jackson Counties, said his office utilizes a fairly strict treatment regime for domestic violence offenders. The treatment plan includes anger management, victim empathy instruction and discussions on the dynamics of domestic violence.

Sometimes they see return offenders, but a fair share of first offenders do not repeat their actions and when they do, it usually has to do with drug and alcohol abuse, Cooper said. He said that domestic violence offenders need to get their sobriety under control before anything.

“There’s a share of folks that get the message and realize that they need to change things,” Cooper said.

While parole programs deal with domestic violence offenders, local safe houses are there to aid the victims.

The Crossroads Safehouse has an extremely large base for victim assistance. Its shelter includes 12 rooms where victims can stay for up to six weeks after fleeing an abusive situation. The house also has a 24-hour crisis line, a domestic abuse response team and legal services.

If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive situation, contact the Crossroads crisis line at 1-888-541-SAFE.

Staff Writer Cece Wildeman can be reached at news@collegian.com

In Colorado, there were more than 12,000 domestic violence victims in 2006. Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins sheltered 515 of them.

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