By Jamey Sheesley
On February 22, Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence (BTS) opened their doors to the Colorado Springs community. BTSADV CEO and Founder Kristen Faith officially cut the ribbon at the grand opening ceremony. This is a sign of a positive change in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
According to The Gazette, Colorado Springs police respond to 35 to 40 domestic violence calls per day, which is about five percent of their call for service. That is thousands more calls than Denver, even though Denver has a slightly larger population. Denver’s domestic violence calls are only about three percent of their daily calls. El Paso County has also had 43 domestic homicides between 2013 and 2018. This deadly cycle needs to be broken.
So how can BTS help the epidemic is Colorado Springs?
“Domestic violence is like a sandwich,” said Paruginog. We provide the first slice of bread, the prevention efforts. Our Speakers Bureau provides businesses and academic institutions with quality education by experienced advocates in the field. Shelters help with immediate crisis and are a center for those who suffer from domestic violence because they provide immediate safety at their confidential safehouse for individuals escaping victims. They are the meat of the sandwich.
To complete the sandwich, BTSADV provides the other slice of bread or the recovery and healing support from abuse. Once victims are away from domestic violence, that does not mean they are free from the pain they suffered and they may have difficulty restarting their lives. BTSADV is there to help with the aftermath of domestic violence. Many victims suffer from PTSD, C-PTSD, low self-esteem, and finding their place in the world in the aftermath. BTS also offers survivor retreats for healing, along with scholarship programs and Angel family programs. With the statistics of domestic violence in Colorado Springs, BTSADV can help this community with domestic violence. They can share information and help those in need alongside TESSA and the Mt. Carmel Veterans Service Center, who BTS most recently partnered with. BTSADV does not offer crisis support, which is why it is so important to partner with other groups that can offer those services.
It is necessary for Colorado Springs to have these organizations advocating against domestic violence because, with as many calls as the police department receives in El Paso County, the more awareness communicated, the better. Colorado Springs is home to Fort Carson Army base. According to SFGate:
“Even as the overall frequency of domestic abuse in the United States declined, levels of intimate partner violence within the post-9/11 military and veterans’ communities began to explode. Calls from people affiliated with the military more than tripled from 2006 to 2011. During roughly the same period at Fort Carson near Colorado Springs, the number of soldiers charged with domestic violence surged, and domestic abuse in the Army skyrocketed as an increasing number of soldiers returned from lengthy, repeat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and rates of PTSD began to rise.”
Traumatic brain injuries are the suspected cause of the rise in domestic violence because it increases aggression and impulsive behavior in soldiers returning from war.
Bob McLaughlin, Mt. Carmel’s Chief Operating Officer spoke at the BTSADV grand opening letting the community know that Mt. Carmel is excited to collaborate with BTS. Mt. Carmel Service Center helps with transitional services for military personnel, with a special emphasis on veterans and their families. McLaughlin stated that before Kristen Faith came into his life, his focus was helping veterans with suicide and other issues veterans may face. Now that BTSADV has joined with Mt. Carmel, he wants to make sure to address domestic violence in the military and veterans to help both them and their families.
BTSADV and Mt. Carmel can both help veterans with their struggles from the trauma they have faced in combat. Awareness of domestic violence is the key to changing it. Not talking about it only continues the problem. BTSADV is here to stay in the Springs to help spread awareness and to help those who feel lost, that have suffered from domestic violence. BTSADV wants to show the community that there is hope and love after domestic violence and BTSADV is here to help them. With more awareness spread through the community, more survivors can receive help and start living their new life.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.