A woman is assaulted or beaten every 9 seconds in the United States. Across the country, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have suffered physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner. In Colorado, domestic violence programs are overburdened and under resourced—163 victims were turned away in 2014 due to lack of resources.
Julie Duhegraham is working to change those statistics, one victim at a time.
As the domestic violence services coordinator at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, Julie works with case managers to provide life-saving assistance to clients, mostly women and their children, by helping them find resources, seek legal services, or relocate after a violent situation has occurred.
Julie often sees women who have had to flee their homes and turn to domestic violence shelters. Jenna* was one of those women. After years in a physically abusive relationship, Jenna daringly left in the middle of the night with her son. She moved in with a close friend until she could find a place of her own. Within a week, her abuser found where she was living and showed up at her friend’s apartment, angry and aggressive. Jenna feared not only for her safety, but the safety of her son, so she made the difficult decision to go to a domestic violence shelter. That’s where she was connected with a case manager at the Coalition.
Jenna had escaped her abuser. Now, she was homeless and vulnerable, facing a whole new set of challenges. Julie worked with Jenna and her case manager to help navigate the processes and paperwork necessary to obtain services, housing, and health care. Eventually, Jenna’s case manager was able to obtain a voucher and find her an apartment. Julie helped Jenna move in to her new place, set up her own bank account, and look for a new job. With Julie’s help, Jenna had the tools she needed to get back on her feet.
Unfortunately, for so many, there isn’t always a happy ending. Women are in more danger during the first few weeks after they have fled an abusive relationship, when they are 70 times more likely to be killed. For Julie, it is devastating to hear people say, “why doesn’t she just leave?”
Imagine leaving a long-term relationship with your children in tow. Now, imagine that your partner is angry, manipulative, and abusive. You have no money because they have always controlled your finances. You have no friends or family connections, because they have isolated you from everyone. You can’t even take your car, because it was purchased in their name. And worst of all, you know your life and the lives of your children are danger if you stay, but you have nowhere to turn.
Women, and men, who are victims of domestic violence are just that—they are victims. It is very difficult to walk away from everything and to risk your life doing it. We cannot allow individuals to continue to experience trauma in their relationships, or on the streets. Take a stand against domestic violence.