Routt County proclaims October Domestic Violence Awareness Month as crisis calls rise by 41%
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — In a unanimous vote, the Routt County Board of Commissioners declared October Domestic Violence Awareness Month during a meeting Tuesday.
The largely symbolic proclamation comes as a show of support amid a recent rise in domestic violence since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Steamboat Springs City Council is scheduled to make a similar declaration at its Oct. 13 meeting.
Advocates of Routt County, a local organization supporting survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse, has seen a 41% increase in crisis calls this year. This reflects a troubling trend nationwide, with the New England Journal of Medicine referring to it as a “pandemic within a pandemic.”
“It can’t be overstated how much COVID has changed the equation in abusive relationships,” said Graham Hackett, the social change program manager for Advocates.
The added stress caused by the pandemic, from job loss to finding adequate child care, combined with prolonged exposure to abusers, has left victims more isolated and at higher risk than ever, according to Hackett.
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In response to the rise in crisis calls and considering the limitations of the pandemic, Advocates has developed new ways to boost its presence in the community. It implemented a public safety initiative, putting up signage at local businesses so survivors can have access to support services’ contact information. Advocates also is offering a brief training for business employees, so they can discreetly help someone in an abusive situation while keeping the survivor safe from the abuser.
This month, Advocates is conducting a social media campaign it calls, “Paws & Reflect: Pet Tips for Healthy Relationships,” to spread helpful messages in a lighthearted way. The community can participate by posting pictures with quotes from their pet’s perspective about what makes for a healthy relationship with the hashtags #PAWS&REFLECT and #DVAM2020.
The campaign culminates on Oct. 24 with a march from Bud Werner Memorial Library to the Routt County Courthouse, starting at 2 p.m.. Participants are encouraged to bring their pets and wear purple in support of survivors.
For more information, contact Graham Hackett with Advocates at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Communicative: You talk openly about problems and listen to one another. You respect each other’s opinions.
- Respectful: You value each other’s opinions, feelings and needs, and give each other the freedom to be yourself and be loved for who you are.
- Trusting: You believe what your partner has to say and don’t feel the need to “prove” each other’s trustworthiness.
- Honest: You’re honest with each other but can still keep some things private.
- Equal: You make decisions together and hold each other to the same standards. You and your partner have equal say with regard to major decisions within the relationship. All partners have access to the resources they need.
- Setting boundaries: You enjoy spending time apart, alone or with others. You respect each other’s need for time and space apart. You communicate with each other about what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
- Practicing consent: You talk openly about sexual and reproductive choices together. All partners always willingly consent to sexual activity and can safely discuss what you are and aren’t comfortable with.
- Parenting supportively: All partners are able to parent in a way that they feel comfortable with. You communicate together about the needs of the child(ren), as well as the needs of the parents.
*Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline
The White House also issued a proclamation declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Now more than ever, we must do our part to provide domestic violence survivors with the tools and resources they need to escape their abuse and secure justice for the harm inflicted upon them,” the proclamation said.
All of the Routt County commissioners voiced support for the local declaration.
“While it’s symbolic in nature, it’s important to the extent it raises awareness,” Commissioner Tim Corrigan said of the proclamation.
“We know the pandemic has created an extra layer of challenge, and it’s a stressful time for everyone,” Commissioner Beth Melton said.
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