Group to schedule community training to prevent domestic, sexual abuse |

Group to schedule community training to prevent domestic, sexual abuse

Bridget Manley

Next step: education.

Community members and Advocates – Crisis Support Services representatives plan to host a public session on sexual assault and domestic violence.

Advocates administrators hope the training session, which has not yet been scheduled, will help residents recognize violence against intimate partners.

However, up-to-date research on domestic violence and sexual assault also could help the campaign find its focus.

About 20 people met Tuesday in the second public meeting to prepare for an upcoming education and prevention program against sexual assault and domestic violence.

Pat Tessmer, Advocates executive director, was among them.

She pointed out that violence between spouses and partners isn’t as cut-and-dry as researchers once thought.

“What they’re saying now is domestic violence is abut violence and control,” she said.

Widely accepted models of an abusive relationship paint the woman as a submissive victim who submits to her male partner’s pendulum swing between aggression and reconciliation.

However, that scenario doesn’t always play out.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I don’t know a lot of saints,” Tessmer said, adding that when a woman is hit by her husband or boyfriend, she’s likely to hit back.

Attendants pointed out that women aren’t always the victims, either.

Alejandra Ledesma, 17, a Moffat County High School senior, said she has seen her male peers manipulated emotionally by their girlfriends.

“You see your friend go through that and it’s very mind-boggling,” she said, adding that defining what an abusive relationship can be difficult.

Holding an online conference with specialists was one of several options the group discussed.

The date and time of the training, as well as the group’s next meeting, are tentatively scheduled in January. Times and dates of those meetings have yet to be determined.

Corrie Ponikvar, Moffat County United Way executive director, asked if increased awareness on sexual and domestic violence could create a spike in reports to Advocates.

An increased burden on Advocates could indirectly affect United Way. The organization collects and grants money to local nonprofits, allots funds to Advocates.

“If this works, are we prepared as a community to embrace that?” Ponikvar said, adding that client numbers for other organizations, including mental health providers, also could increase.

Tessmer agreed that the campaign could have an initial impact.

“I think what it may do in the beginning is increase the number of people that we see,” Tessmer said.

Still, she added, if the campaign focuses on prevention, it eventually may help quell those increasing numbers.

And, in her view, there aren’t many other options left.

“I’ve been here since 1990, and it’s, like, we’ve got to do something,” Tessmer said.

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or

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