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Domestic violence seminar in Steamboat focuses on awareness

Assistance program seeing increase in victims

Kathleen Schoen writes a list of topics for discussion at a domestic violence seminar Monday at the Steamboat Springs Justice Center.
Scott Franz

For more

Advocates Building Peaceful Communities volunteers are available 24 hours a day for victims of domestic violence. Call 970-879-8888 to talk to someone.

To learn more about Advocates Building Peaceful Communities and domestic violence prevention, call 970-879-2034.

Advocates provides the following services:

■ 24-hour crisis response for all victims of crime

■ Residential shelter

■ Counseling

■ Women’s support group

■ Teen support group

■ Criminal justice advocacy

■ Civil protection order assistance

■ Consulting

■ Education/awareness presentations

For more

Advocates Building Peaceful Communities volunteers are available 24 hours a day for victims of domestic violence. Call 970-879-8888 to talk to someone.

To learn more about Advocates Building Peaceful Communities and domestic violence prevention, call 970-879-2034.

Advocates provides the following services:



■ 24-hour crisis response for all victims of crime

■ Residential shelter



■ Counseling

■ Women’s support group

■ Teen support group

■ Criminal justice advocacy

■ Civil protection order assistance

■ Consulting

■ Education/awareness presentations

— For the lawyers, therapists, social workers and volunteers gathered for a domestic violence seminar at the Routt County Justice Center on Monday, District Chief Judge Michael O’Hara’s reference to a morning thunderstorm was a relevant analogy.

“They don’t know where and when the lightning will hit and how many seconds will pass between each clap of thunder,” O’Hara said as he discussed the uncertainty and the possibility of harm that victims of domestic violence face. “It can be like they are walking on eggshells.”

O’Hara’s speech marked the beginning of a seminar aimed at raising awareness of domestic violence and its impact on local families. He said an increase in the number of cases of domestic violence makes awareness and proper training more important at the community level.

“Here in this community not a week goes by without a domestic violence arrest,” he said. “But the issue is still in the shadows and under the carpet.”

O’Hara said improved training for law enforcement personnel, more efficient court responses to violence cases and new legislation will continue to be important responses to domestic violence.

Diane Moore, executive dire­ctor of Advocates Building Peace­­­ful Communities, said her organization has seen an increase in abuse victims this year. Moore said Advocates, a Steamboat-based organization that provides services to victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse in Routt County, provides assistance to more than 200 victims of violence and abuse. She predicts that number will be closer to 400 by the end of this year. It’s not unusual for Advocates to see 25 to 40 new victims every month.

“We’ve served more victims, and more are spending nights in the shelter,” she said. “It’s difficult to show this, but what we’ve been hearing anecdotally is that the economy continues to be a huge factor in these cases.”

Moore said that in addition to the economy, substance abuse and the day-to-day pressures of raising a family also are factors contributing to the increase in violence.

At Monday’s seminar, representatives from the Colorado Bar Association sought to explore the psychological causes of violence and its effect on children.

“If you can’t understand what’s going on with the parents and their relationship, it’s hard to understand why the violence is occurring,” said Kathleen Schoen, director of local bar relations and access to justice at the Colorado Bar Association.

Schoen, who has worked in the area of domestic violence prevention and intervention since 1986, said the biggest change in addressing violence has been a shift in focus from law enforcement to domestic relations.

“Back then, some people thought that by arresting someone, the violence would end,” she said. “But it’s so much more than law enforcement. We need to start looking at the relationship between the parents.”

The seminar attracted more than 60 local individuals who work with victims of domestic violence. Susan de Wardt, a volunteer at Advocates, said the information she received during the seminar would be valuable when she returned to manning a phone at a local crisis call center.

“I thought it was really useful to have so many people from different agencies together and providing so much insight,” she said. “Although I’ve been involved in the work for eight years, it’s great to see what everyone else is up to and what other agencies are able to provide.”


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