COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- During Domestic Violence Awareness Month, several Southern Colorado agencies are bringing awareness to an increase in intimate partner violence. The organizations hope the spike will be a wake-up call for many.
TESSA, a leading provider of resources for domestic violence victims in El Paso and Teller Counties, reports they provided services for 15,000 people in 2020. So far in 2021, they have already helped roughly 23,000 people.
According to a report published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, roughly 33 percent of Colorado women and 29 percent of Colorado men have experienced partner violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking in their life.
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the Pikes Peak Region believe those numbers are likely higher because of the pandemic.
“The stress might flip a switch and cause domestic violence and sadly a lot of the times the victims of domestic violence can also be children,” Keri Kahn of CASA said.
Before the pandemic, Kahn said CASA would see about 20 domestic violence cases monthly involving children. Now, that figure averages 40.
“Domestic violence knows no social-economical bounds it does not have class bounds," Michael Allen District Attorney 4th Judicial District said. "So it can happen anywhere it can happen to anyone.”
Allen reports over the last four years, there has been a 41 percent increase in domestic violence cases in Teller and El Paso Counties.
Additionally, advocates say the cycle of domestic violence can be generational.
“When a child is surrounded by trauma and violence, substance abuse and arguing the chances are high that they will follow in those footsteps," Kahn said
Most recently, the conversation of domestic violence was on the minds of many people with the murder of Gabby Petito who was seen telling police officers on body camera footage she was having "personal problems" with her boyfriend.
Domestic Violence Awareness Month launched in October 1987. Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced the Office on Violence Against Women invested more than $476 million in grants to address domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a sobering reminder of the harm domestic violence inflicts across our country, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic means that for many survivors, abuse may be compounded by being isolated with an abuser, loss of income, and stress over the virus itself,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “These OVW grants will provide local organizations with resources to support survivors as they heal, promote victim access to justice, and further local, state, and tribal training efforts to best prepare officials to respond to these dangerous calls.”
For the National Domestic Violence Hotline call 800-799-7233 or click here.