Domestic violence shelter serves region for 25 years
There are some roads a former Grand Junction teenager will never go down again.
After being in an abusive relationship in high school, the girl, who is now a 26-year-old woman, sees the telltale signs of domestic violence.
“Now that I look back, I can see all the warning signs,” she said by phone from her Arizona home.
“There were comments that were degrading, mean-spirited. After about a year he started to get really controlling. He was jealous, and his anger was uncontrollable. It was always behind closed doors. I guess I feel like I honest to God dodged the bullet.”
Anyone who thinks they’re in an abusive relationship — whether it’s physical, psychological, sexual or emotional — can seek help locally. That’s the message staff at Latimer House, a resource for domestic violence counseling, services and a safehouse, would like the public to know.
October is national Domestic Violence Awareness month and Latimer House is celebrating its 25th year of helping victims of domestic violence.
“We’re trying to get out some awareness about the issue,” said Barbara Salogga, director of development and marketing at Hilltop.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re in crisis to call. We believe that through education, we can nip (domestic violence) in the bud.”
Domestic violence occurs in all cultures and among any socioeconomic circles. In Mesa County, 611 new cases of domestic violence were reported from January to August. Last year in Colorado, 33 deaths were related to domestic violence, seven of them children.
Domestic violence often escalates in intensity. The former Grand Junction teenager said she is happy now that she didn’t become a statistic, because she realizes how easy it could have happened.
The boy, who was “charismatic and popular,” alienated her from her friends by falsely telling them she was talking badly of them behind their backs.
He hit her and spit on her in public and controlled who she could see.
It ended when the two were seen fighting, and she locked him out of her house. A neighbor called police.
“I just remember the concern on the officer’s face,” she said. “It was the same officer that (later) came to a high school dance that I went to. That was so comforting to see.”
The woman said starting over at another high school was difficult but necessary. She lost all of the friends she grew up with and at first ate lunch alone in a corner of the cafeteria.
“I would do things that were small cries for help,” she said. “I would deny it was happening, but hoping that people wouldn’t believe that. I wanted somebody to question me on it.”
Anyone who is seeking help from an abusive relationship should call Latimer House’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 241-6704.