Diane Moore: Never again will we lose a child to family violence | SteamboatToday.com

Diane Moore: Never again will we lose a child to family violence

Diane Moore has for the past three decades been the director of Advocates Building Peaceful Communities, the Steamboat Springs-based organization that provides support for victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault.

Advocates Building Peaceful Communities is focusing on increasing awareness in our communities about family violence. Intimate partner violence is a reality in our communities, and according to Police Chief Cory Christensen, has increased 19 percent so far in 2017 compared to 2016.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. For the past 30 years this effort has honored those who have died and celebrated those who have survived.

Four women and three children have died as a result of family violence in Routt County in the past 13 years. As we honor the memory of those victims and celebrate the courage of thousands of survivors of domestic violence served by Advocates in the past 34 years, it is critical for each of us to be a part of the solution to this community-wide problem.

Did you know that employers are frequently aware that an employee may be experiencing psychological and/or physical abuse in their homes? Medical professionals are also commonly aware that patients they are caring for experience some form of abusive behavior at the hands of her abuser. Educators often see a child's struggles in school may be related to family violence in the home.

Beyond awareness, the next step is training and collaboration with community members.

Anna and her two children accessed the resources offered by Advocates. Law enforcement responded to the home as a result of harassment and threats to Anna. Advocates' on-call volunteer provided immediate support and assessment as she spoke with Anna.

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Options were discussed, and information was provided regarding the judicial system. Anna determined that the residential shelter would be a good option for safety as she made decisions about the future for her children and herself.

Advocates' staff provided information about civil protection orders, court advocacy, short-term crisis counseling and information about the impact on children. Victim advocacy included resource referrals as relevant to her situation.

Anna stayed at the shelter for two months and then was able to find housing and a job. She is a survivor and fortunately her story is a positive one. Others have not been so fortunate as domestic violence may often play out its complete cycle.

In fact domestic violence is a deadly cycle with the four stages of abuse occurring over and over unless stopped by some intervention.

A script begins to play out for survivors. "It'll never happen again." "He says he's sorry." “It's my fault.” Tensions build with the survivor becoming fearful. An incident will occur. The violence may be verbal, psychological, physical; to include strangulation, threats and intimidation.

Reconciliation, or the excuse stage, is when the abuser apologizes, blames the victim and may deny the abuse occurred. The last stage in this cycle, the calm stage, is often called the honeymoon stage. This part of the cycle may be a time of hope and love and things may be better for a while.

And, then the cycle begins again with tensions presenting.

Continuing efforts to increase awareness about domestic violence in our community on behalf of women, children and men is critical if we are to help those families in need of support and possible intervention.

Many of us are aware of family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors who experience abuse. Please call for more information and consider being a part of the change to end domestic violence: office, 970-879-2034; crisis number, 970-879-8888; http://www.steamboatadvocates.com. Advocates services are confidential.

Diane Moore

Advocates Building Peaceful Communities executive director