In relationships, a variety of issues are bound to arise. That’s just the nature of two people co-existing with each other. But when those issues escalate and turn into domestic violence, there are local resources available for affected parties.
In 2018, local nonprofit Rise Above Violence, a group with the goal to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, received 2,299 total calls. Of those 2,299 calls, 1,788 were solely for domestic violence, according to Rise Executive Director Carmen Hubbs.
That means roughly 78 percent of calls to Rise in 2018 pertained to domestic violence.
On average, Rise serves 340-380 victims per year, with 361 survivors being served last year, she described.
Of those 361 survivors, 254 (or 70 percent) were specific to domestic violence, Hubbs explained.
Those numbers, however, say to Hubbs that it shows people are utilizing Rise as a resource that is available in the community.
“It doesn’t surprise me at all. And that’s what we really advertise that we’re about, is working against those two crimes in particular,” Hubbs said of domestic violence and sexual assault crimes, “but, really, any kind of form of interpersonal violence we work with people on.”
Rise gets calls in several ways: via its 24-hour hotline, or through local law enforcement agencies, Hubbs explained.
In the aftermath of a domestic violence case, tons of emotions are flowing for the affected party as well as their family, and Rise initially seeks to serve what that individual wants and needs, Hubbs explained.
“It’s very client-centered and every situation and every person is very unique, and, so, it’s very centered around where they’re at and what they’re needing,” she explained.
However, on a “typical” case, Rise tends to try and ensure a survivor’s immediate safety and then assess what their needs are, she explained.
A safety plan is also developed for the individual that works for them and their current situation, Hubbs added.
“We really assess for their safety and ensure that they always leave our conversation feeling a little bit safer than they did maybe before they called or got in touch with an advocate,” Hubbs said.
If Rise is notified via law enforcement and an arrest is also made, Rise is really involved, being there for the survivor from start to finish, she explained.
“Because we know that court is very overwhelming for a lot of people. Most people have not been involved in that system,” Hubbs explained, adding that Rise wants to make sure survivors are able to understand their rights as well as exercise them when they choose to.
In the interim between the start of an incident and the “end” of one, Rise wants to make sure that not only the primary victim is attended to, but secondary victims such as children, family and friends are getting the services that they need as well.
“We want to make sure that we’re serving not only those who were directly harmed, but those, kind of, residual people who witness or are aware or are close to a person who’s been harmed,” she said.
Counseling, support groups and case management are all things put in place to make the interim period of a domestic violence case more manageable, Hubbs explained further.
Attorneys are also contracted with to provide those in need of legal advice and services, she explained.
“If we can’t provide the service, we certainly try and figure out who can,” she said.
Despite the fact that Rise only focuses on survivors of these sorts of crimes, Hubbs understands that getting violence to end involves both parties getting help and/or assistance.
“That offender absolutely needs services and needs assistance, so we always refer to the resources that have those,” she explained.
Hubbs explained that domestic violence cases cannot be simply described as one person being “angry” with another, but in fact, the issues can be much deeper.
“Domestic violence is really very specific about a person trying to gain power and control over another person,” she explained.
Domestic violence is a very complicated issue, and, as Hubbs explained, it’s never an isolated incident.
“There’s usually been a history, things have been happening and usually they start escalating,” Hubbs said, explaining that right around the time things escalate is when Rise suggests preventative measures be put in place.
A person starting to feel like they are being controlled in a relationship could be a potential warning sign, Hubbs noted.
“Rise is not about advocating for divorce or things like that. What we advocate is for safety,” she said. “If that does mean divorce, that’s unfortunate.”
If a person can stop being abusive, that is what is successful, Hubbs explained.
“That, ultimately, is what is going to end this epidemic, is that people stop being abusive,” she said, and by doing this, offenders are held accountable and victims are not blamed.
The dynamics of domestic violence are much more complex than just the potential physical conflicts, Hubbs explained.
“There’s so many other layers that make it difficult for people to just assume it’s easy to get out or easy to fix,” she said. “There’s a lot more to it.”
Domestic violence is one of the most preventative crimes because there is usually a history that can be traced, Hubbs noted.
“Reaching out sooner, rather than later, is only going to help prevent those. And offenders getting help sooner, rather than later, is only going to start to really address this problem and maybe start to make that pendulum swing to where domestic violence becomes more obsolete,” she described.
Those who may find themselves in an abusive relationship should know first and foremost that they are not alone, Hubbs noted.
“I want a person to understand that this is something that can be overcome and can be mitigated,” she said.
Help is available locally and there is no reason to suffer in silence; however, Hubbs acknowledged that being in a small community can convolute things.
Rise advocates understand the importance of anonymity and make sure things are kept confidential, she explained.
“We’re here for survivors. We’re not here to dictate or to make any decisions. We’re here to inform, we’re here to educate, we’re here to support in any capacity that we’re asked,” she said.
Domestic violence is very serious, but the community can have a huge impact on these sorts of cases moving forward, Hubbs noted.
“There are usually indicators and red flags that people can sometimes see,” she said. “We as a community really have the ability to start to recognize those red flags.”
Everyone can play a role in keeping each other safe, Hubbs explained, noting that it doesn’t all have to fall on law enforcement or Rise advocates.
“As a community, we have the ability to impact this crime and impact those who are suffering,” she said. “If anything, I hope this can be a call to action.”
National Domestic Violence Hotline, an anonymous and confidential help line, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (800) 799-7233 (SAFE) or (800) 787-3224 (TTY) now.
Rise Above Violence’s free and confidential local hotline is available 24 hours a day at 264-9075.
Local law enforcement agencies:
Emergencies: Dial 911.
Archuleta County Dispatch: 731-2160.
Archuleta County Sheriff: 264-8430.
Pagosa Springs Police Department: 264-4151, ext. 228.
Colorado State Patrol: 247-4722.
Southwest Safehouse: 259-5443.
District Attorney, Pagosa Office: 264-5898.
District Attorney Victim/Witness
Department of Human Services: 264-2182.