Steamboat Springs In a single day last week, eight local victims of domestic violence headed to the Advocates Against Battering and Abuse headquarters, executive director Diane Moore said.
But statistically, that's probably only 10 to 15 percent of the actual sufferers in the valley, she said.
"For a small town, it's amazing we have these kinds of problems," United Way Executive Director Millie Beall said. "We think we're free and clear of those sorts of problems because, for example, we're not in a big city. But (domestic violence) is a definite concern for all of those victims and for the safety and well-being of their family members."
The agency sees 15 to 17 new victims each month, in addition to 12 to 15 returning victims, Moore said.
Of those locals seeking refuge and counsel each year, more than 35 are children (age 18 and under) and up to 20 of them are men.
Although Moore said it seems to be increasingly "OK" for men, children and women alike to report domestic violence, there are still some types of abuse that are particularly difficult to recognize and define, which means there are probably many, many more people out there who need help.
Even abusing a partner's pet is a serious, albeit indirect, way of terrifying and emotionally abusing someone, Moore said.
"Emotional, verbal and mental abuse are sometimes harder than others to recognize," Moore said as an example. "It could be humiliation or ridicule, withholding approval, control issues, enforcing isolation from work, friends and family, jealousy, verbal allegations and lack of trust, externalizing blame.
"The worst part is that if an abuser keeps telling you the abuse is your own fault, whether it be emotional, verbal, mental or physical, eventually you start to believe the abuser."
At that point, it becomes difficult to get victims of domestic violence to seek help, she said.
Some of the funds from this year's United Way Campaign 2000 will go to Advocates Against Battering and Abuse.
"If we had extra funds, we could really increase our outreach and direct services, like putting together a support group in Hayden or Oak Creek, and providing more outreach services for children," Moore said.
The agency has a residential program that provides up to six weeks of shelter for up to four families.
As a direct result of United Way Funding, the agency is able to provide 24-hour crisis service to all victims, including other crime victims such as car accident or robbery victims.
United Way also provides the funding for women to take part in a three-day "Survivor course for survivors of violence" trip with Outward Bound.
"This is national domestic violence awareness month," Moore said. "Education and awareness are critical; we need to keep letting everyone know that this is not only happening behind closed doors. "
To reach Bonnie Nadzam call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org