Working to break the cycle of domestic violence year-round


By Cheryl Bowdridge
Special to The PREVIEW

Have you seen the splash of purple around town? Have you wondered why the sports teams had on purple socks? Why the light poles on Hot Springs Boulevard were wearing purple ribbons? Why the county commissioners had on purple shirts? Why the businesses on main street displayed purple in their windows? Why everywhere you went you were seeing purple?

Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first recognized in our nation by legislation in 1989. This month was declared a month of remembering victims and sparking awareness surrounding domestic violence. Both the Town of Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County signed proclamations declaring October 2016 Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

However, as October ends and the purple significance begins to fade, we ask, “Have we done our part?” Did one more victim feel empowered to call a hotline? Did a perpetrator realize they need help? Did we change or possibly save a life? Did we educate at least one more person about the dangers and effects that domestic violence has on our community? Although these questions remain unanswered, we look around and believe that we did make a difference.

While speaking to teenagers about the reasons they were wearing purple socks, a tear may have been shed, a chill may have crept up the spine of an unknowing victim. A young person may have thought a little bit longer about the relationship they are in; they may have been able to answer the question “Is my relationship healthy?” Maybe someone was reading an article and felt compelled to report a domestic violence case. Perhaps you realized that someone you know is involved in an unhealthy relationship and you had the courage to speak up.

If any of these things happened, then, indeed, we did our part.

As you carry on in your everyday life, remember that this is not an October issue. Domestic violence is a problem that we face every day. Three women per day are murdered by a former intimate partner. One in four women and one in 14 men are victims of domestic violence in their lifetime. One in eight women and one in seven men are victims of severe violence by an intimate partner. A total of 17.5 million women and 4.5 million men experience physical violence by their intimate partner each year. Ten million children are affected by domestic violence each year. There are 18,500,000 mental health care visits as a result of domestic violence each year, yet only 25 percent of the physical assault cases perpetrated against women are reported to law enforcement each year and even fewer men report.

As you can see, this is an issue that affects everyone in some form or fashion. Whether you are a victim, a child of domestic violence, an employer of a victim, a social worker, a medical professional, a friend or a family member, it affects us all. We all need to do our part in helping to break the cycle, not only in October — all year long.

The Archuleta County Victim Assistance Program serves over 300 clients per year. Help our community by helping yourself or those around you. If someone you know is in an unhealthy relationship, don’t be a bystander. Our helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and is 100 percent confidential. Call 264-9075. We are always here and willing to help.