Domestic violence turned deadly for an Archuleta County resident last week.
Millie Mestas was murdered Tuesday night, while most of us slept soundly in the comfort and safety of our homes.
No one has yet been found guilty of this heinous murder; however, a suspect is in custody, with one of the charges being that of domestic violence.
It was not a story we wanted to print on the front page of the newspaper last week or again this week, but we believe Millie’s death should not be in vain.
Her story is one that deserves to be told. Unfortunately, the story of domestic violence is one that has been told over and over in newspapers across the nation on a daily basis.
Domestic violence can happen to any gender, race or age. One in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
NCADV’s website states that “domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.”
Sadly, we don’t know Millie’s whole story, and we may never know it since her life was cut short in this violent act. Victims of domestic violence don’t often share what happens behind closed doors in their home. We knew Millie as the bright smile and sparkling eyes behind the deli counter at the local market, while others knew her as “Na Na” (grandmother), Mom, sister and daughter.
Locally, Rise Above Violence served 254 domestic violence survivors in 2018. Of the 2,299 total calls for help in 2018, Executive Director Carmen Hubbs explained that 1,788 calls were specifically for domestic violence. That means, on average, nearly five calls for help are made every single day right here in Archuleta County by those experiencing domestic violence.
Those are just the ones who call. There are many victims who never call for help and suffer in silence.
According to the NCADV, warning signs and red flags of an abuser include but are not limited to:
• Extreme jealousy.
• A bad temper.
• Cruelty to animals.
• Verbal abuse.
• Extremely controlling behavior.
• Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships.
• Forced sex or disregard of their partner’s unwillingness to have sex.
• Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens.
• Sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school.
• Abuse of other family members, children or pets.
• Accusations of the victim flirting with others or having an affair.
• Control of what the victim wears and how they act.
• Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly.
• Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others.
• Harassment of the victim at work.
There is help for those who find themselves in an abusive situation, the 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 (970) 264-9075.
Local law enforcement agencies:
Emergencies: Dial 911.
Archuleta County Dispatch: (970) 731-2160.
Archuleta County Sheriff: (970) 264-8430.
Pagosa Springs Police Department: (970) 264-4151, ext. 228.
Colorado State Patrol: (970) 247-4722.
Southwest Safehouse: (970) 259-5443.
District Attorney, Pagosa Office: (970) 264-5898.
District Attorney Victim/Witness Assistance: (970) 247-8850.
Department of Human Services: (970) 264-2182.
Please remember Millie. There is help.
Terri Lynn Oldham House