Domestic violence might occur behind closed doors, but it only takes a look at the number of victims helped by Advocates Against Battering and Abused to know the crime exists in Steamboat Springs.
In the past four days, Advocates has served 13 victims of domestic violence. All were new clients; all were women. Twelve children were impacted.
In 2003, the agency served 268 domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The past four days have been abnormally busy for the agency, and Advocates Executive Director Diane Moore said she has no way to explain why the numbers rise and fall.
Since the agency's emergence 20 years ago, great inroads have been made in educating the community about the prevalence of domestic violence, Moore said.
"But I still think it would surprise the community to know the significant number of families and people that we serve," she said.
On Wednesday, Moore will once again educate the community about domestic violence during a meeting hosted by the Steamboat Springs Police Department.
At the meeting, scheduled for 6 p.m. at Centennial Hall, Moore will give a 45-minute presentation followed by a question-and-answer period. Police representatives will attend the meeting to answer questions about domestic violence and, at the end of the meeting, any general questions about the police department.
The police department holds meetings two to three times a year as a way to keep communication open between the community and the police, Assistant Police Chief Art Fiebing said.
"People can come and talk about anything," he said. "We just want people to keep talking to us to know what they are thinking, get comfortable asking us questions and to know what we are doing and how we do it."
In the last community meeting, the police talked about DUI enforcement before opening the meeting to questions from the public. For this meeting, the police picked domestic violence as the main focus because it is a fairly regular problem, Fiebing said.
"Advocates is a good resource for someone in a violent relationship that would like some help," Fiebing said. "And it is also (a good resource) for what happens when you do call the police."
Moore said the meeting would be helpful for more than those in households with domestic violence or for those who know of family or friends in abusive relationships. Community leaders, business owners and teachers also see the effects of domestic violence, Moore said, and could benefit from the talk.
"(Domestic violence) isn't just a behind-closed-doors issue," Moore said. "It spills out into schools and the workplace."
Moore also said people should not be afraid to call police or authorities if they hear or see what they think to be a domestic violence incident.
"We still have women say, 'I was screaming, and nobody next door called the police,'" Moore said. "If you hear things, don't be worried to intrude."
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