Steamboat Springs The shelter for victims of domestic violence is beyond capacity as a result of a recent surge in incidents, Advocates Against Battering and Abuse officials reported.
When space at the shelter ran out, Advocates housed two families elsewhere and had to refer three families to another agency outside of Routt County.
Diane Moore, executive director of Advocates, found a pile of paperwork on her desk Monday morning from six new clients who came to the agency over the weekend. Steamboat Springs police responded to five domestic violence calls between the hours of 1 and 4 a.m. Sunday. Hayden police responded to two domestic violence calls the same night.
"Of those cases, one was a tourist situation, but the rest were not," Moore said. "Sometimes people wonder if it isn't new people or tourists doing these things, but it still tends to be people who have lived here awhile."
Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said alcohol has been a major factor in the incidents.
"There are plenty of places to drink around here. Couples try to solve problems while they are under the influence of alcohol," he said. "We can philosophize all day about why this happens, but the truth is that the community doesn't really want to know about it. Sometimes men beat their wives."
The rise in domestic violence started more than two weeks ago and hasn't let up, Moore said. "This just doesn't happen for us," she said. "Maybe once or twice in 20 years."
She said the trend is disturbing.
"I've always said that this is a learned behavior, but it can definitely increase when we have outside stress such as the economy," Moore said. "Thinking about a number of families we've been seeing, financial problems (have been a source)."
Moore went through her files from the last six months and noticed the numbers increasing with each month, she said. "Most of our (contacts) talked about unemployment situations."
She also observed that in the last three months, Advocates has undertaken more than the usual amount of safety planning with women concerned that they are in danger.
"We call it a lethality assessment," Moore said. "They have definitely increased in the last three or four months."
Of the victims who reported to Advocates in the last three weeks, one was a male but the rest were female, Moore said.
--To reach Autumn Phillips call 871-4210 or