Paul Hebert: Domestic and sexual violence at our front door
September 27, 2017
Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series from Advocates Building Peaceful Communities.
While Routt County is known for its beauty and recreational opportunities, provides an idyllic home for more than 20,000 residents and an escape from urban living for tens of thousands of visitors every year, we are not immune from one of the more insidious realities of life in America, that is domestic and sexual violence.
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, battery, physical or sexual assault, or other abusive behavior perpetrated by one intimate partner against another or against related children in the household. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats and psychological abuse.
It goes beyond the household and is found in our schools and on our college campuses as well. It is found among all levels of society, rich, poor, well-educated, college students, blue collar or white collar workers. The statistics on domestic and sexual violence are shocking.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that in the United States, 1.5 million cases of domestic and sexual violence are reported annually. One in three women and one in four men have been abused by an intimate partner within their lifetimes.
Domestic violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime. 85 percent of domestic violence victims are women. Sexual violence on our college campuses has been on the rise, with one in five college women being victimized during their college years.
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Bullying in our secondary schools is also a growing problem and takes the form of intimidation and violent interaction. The NCADV reports that only one in four incidents of domestic and sexual abuse are reported.
Locally, family violence is occurring with shocking numbers. In the past 13 years there have been seven murders of women and children related to domestic violence in Routt County.
In 2015, 171 crisis calls were received by Advocates Building Peaceful Communities. During the past five years, 285 to 330 persons have been provided services by Advocates annually, 1,000 to 1,800 nights of shelter were provided and 20 to 25 survivors of sexual violence were assisted annually.
If the trends in Routt County are similar to national averages, this would mean that possibly hundreds of abuse incidents in our county go unreported every year. These statistics do not include unreported incidents of dating sexual abuse cases, sex trafficking of women and bullying in our schools.
Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, formally known as Advocates Against Battering and Abuse, is a nonprofit organization, located in Steamboat Springs, which serves Routt County as a resource to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence. The organization provides 24-hour immediate crisis response, crisis counseling and residential shelter for victims, Latino/immigrant outreach, civil protection order assistance, lethality assessment and awareness raising concerning teen dating violence. Advocates has collaborated with various city, county and other community partners in these endeavors for the past 34 years.
Advocates believes that we have a responsibility to increase awareness in our community about the violence that is occurring often right in our own neighborhoods and of the services that are available.
This is the first of three articles to be published in the Steamboat Pilot & Today to begin to broaden this awareness among Routt County residents. Having laid out the general problem of domestic and sexual violence in our community, the next two articles will explore more specifically issues and programs underway or planned by Advocates and some measures that our larger community might take to address these issues.
Paul Hebert is a board member of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities. Other board members include Alice Klauzer, Cory Christensen, Jeanne Fitzsimmons, Trip Harrelson, Paul Hebert, Brie Neppl, Katie Schmitz and Kathleen Walsh.