Domestic Violence Persists Despite Drop In Colorado Cases
Each year, thousands of Coloradans, men and women, are victims of domestic violence. They're abused by their husbands or wives, boyfriends or girlfriends.
In recognition of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, KVNF’s Laura Palmisano bring us the story of a survivor.
Miriam is 25 years old.
Born in Mexico, she came to the U.S. with her parents when she was 11.
"Some girls are so scared," Miriam says. "Especially in the Hispanic culture, some girls are told if they go and ask for help they'll be deported or they'll take their kids away."
She lived in Las Vegas before moving to Colorado two years ago.
She moved to escape a man who was abusing her.
"When I first met him he didn’t have a job, a house, money, and he was on drugs," she says. "When he met me he knew I had a car, a good job, and I was doing really good. I had a house. That’s when he first started talking to me. I guess that’s when it first started. He came to me because I had all of things he didn’t have."
Miriam says her boyfriend Favio started taking financial advantage of her. Then the situation turned violent.
"Physical abuse started...when he found out that I was pregnant," she says. "He was telling me it was my fault, I wasn’t taking care of myself, we didn’t need a child because we weren’t going to be able to party or have money to go out. And then he started to hit me...and sexually abusing me."
Miriam says the violence got so bad she almost lost her child.
"I had a really bad pregnancy," she says. "That’s one of the reasons my parents came to visit me because I was having surgery. They wanted to make that I was okay. And that’s when they found out about the domestic violence I was going through."
Miriam’s parents brought her to live with them in western Colorado.
After her son was born, she says Favio started calling her, threatening to take her child away. That’s when she decided to seek help.
"It's common for an abusive spouse to say...I'll take the kids away from you," Jesse Cox, with the City of Delta Police Department, says.
She contacted Hilltop’s Tri-County Resource Center.
The nonprofit organization provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It serves Delta, Montrose and Ouray counties.
Coordinator Aimee Quadri-Chavez says Tri-County responded to nearly 1,500 crisis calls last year.
"We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that’s used by one partner to gain and maintain power and control over another partner," Quadri-Chavez says.
She says domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and even economic abuse.
According to federal data, more than 1 in 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
According to Colorado court data, more than 10,000 domestic violence misdemeanor cases were filed last year. But that’s an improvement.
Based on a ten-year average, the number of domestic violence misdemeanor cases filed by the state’s district courts has dropped nearly 13 percent.
Jesse Cox is the commander of the City of Delta Police Department.
Cox teaches a course at the police academy on how to respond to and investigate domestic violence calls. He says it’s important for officers to make sure victims feel safe.
"It’s common for an abusive spouse to say well without me you are not going to have any money or I’m going to take you off the insurance and the kids won’t have insurance," he says. "I’ll take the kids away from you."
Cox says it’s against the state’s victims’ rights law for abusers to do those things. But usually victims don’t know that.
"So using our officers and educating them on victims’ rights and utilizing our victim services coordinator we really educate [victims] on what’s available to them and how we can help them," he says.
Cox says under the Colorado Victim Rights Act, the abusive person can’t take away things like housing, transportation, or kids. He says it also puts automatic criminal restraining orders into affect.
"I really encourage [others] to try and go get help for themselves especially if they have any kids," Miriam says. "I mean the kids need their moms to be okay or their parents to be okay."
Miriam, the domestic violence survivor, is grateful for the help she got. But she says she wants people to recognize they have a role to play too.
"One day when I was being abused by my boyfriend, he was pulling my hair and getting me out of the car," she says. "He was pushing me and kicking me. And, I was calling for help in English and Spanish and nobody would call the police. I would really like to tell those people out their if they see a situation like this that they should call 911 or try to help them because they could be saving someone’s life."
Miriam has a message for other victims.
"Some girls are so scared," she says. "Especially in the Hispanic culture, some girls are told if they go and ask for help they’ll be deported or they’ll take their kids away."
Miriam says this isn’t true.
She says agencies like Tri-County are there to help victims and they kept her information private.
"I really encourage [others] to try and go get help for themselves… especially if they have any kids," she says. "I mean the kids need their moms to be okay or their parents to be okay."
Miriam is now in a transitional home and plans to start taking college classes soon.
She says she says hopes to someday help other victims of domestic violence and be a role model for her son.