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    Predators and abusers use tactics designed to gain your trust. You might feel a sense of something being "off" when these tactics are being used, but you might not be able to pinpoint why. Keep in mind that “good people” don’t use tactics. They are genuine in their goodness, and it comes across as authentic and real. Not fake, like someone using a "tactic". This is why you notice the "off" feeling when a person is trying to gain your trust without being trustworthy. Their authenticity is missing, and your body feels it, even if you are unable to pinpoint the "why" of what you feel. Here is a list of the tactics used by predators to befriend you or gain your trust: Forced teaming – Someone who approaches you and uses the words “we” or “us” without knowing you might be trying to gain your trust. Here is an example: if you are walking on Main Street and someone comes alongside you and says, “it looks like we both needed a nice walk today”. Pay attention to this when, in reality, there is no “we” or “us”. Charm and niceness – Are all nice people trying to harm you? No! But keep in mind that niceness does not equal goodness. People trying to control others will generally present as a nice person at first. You can reject the advances of someone you don’t know, especially a person that makes you feel uncomfortable. It is not your responsibility to keep them from feeling bad or rejected. Too many details – A stranger who starts telling you about themselves or their lives might have bad motives. When people are telling the truth, they don’t feel doubted, and they don’t feel the need for additional support in the form of details. Typecasting – If you are approached by someone and you let them know you don’t want to talk with them, they might typecast you by saying something like, “I knew you would be one of those mean girls”. Or, “you obviously think you are better than me”. Typecasting involves an insult that you might feel responsible to defend in order to let them know you are not like that. Your best strategy is to avoid responding and/or walking away. Loan sharking – A stranger who tries to help you for no reason could be trying to place you in his/her debt. A person will often feel guilty saying no to someone who has been helpful. Don’t place yourself in a position where you feel you owe someone something. And remember, you do not owe ANYONE ANYTHING. Unsolicited promise – This sounds like, “let me walk you to your car. I won’t hurt you, I promise”. Why is this person making this promise? Good people are generally not thinking of doing anything harmful, so they don’t think of telling you they won’t. Someone with bad intentions might seek to calm any gut instincts you have. ALWAYS listen to your gut instincts rather than a person’s words. Discounting the word “NO” – Pay attention to someone who will not respect your “NO”. If you meet someone at a party and they ask for your phone number and you say “no”, that should be the end of the conversation. Be wary of assuming that a person that won’t take “no” for an answer has a crush on you. In reality, it is a person who is not respecting your boundaries and potentially has bad intentions towards you. Unfortunately, rom-coms have taught women that the person who won’t take “no” for an answer is their knight in shining armor. Keep in mind that our bodies are designed to detect danger. If you feel uncomfortable with someone you have every right to leave the interaction. You are not obligated to make sure they don't feel bad about your reaction. Do what you need to do to feel safe, every single time. ***If you want to learn more about the body's response to fear, read Gavin DeBecker's book called THE GIFT OF FEAR.


    Teen dating violence is something that we don't hear about very much, but that does not mean it isn't prevalent in society. Let's take a look at teen dating violence, what it is, who it happens to, and what it looks like. 81% of American parents of teens believe teen dating violence is not a problem at all, or they are unsure. Let's look at some statistics to find out the facts: 1 in 3 teens experience some form of relationship abuse. Each year 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner. 43% of college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors. As you can see, teen dating violence is a significant problem that needs to be addressed. If you think you may be a victim of teen dating violence, you can call us at 719-275-2429 for free and confidential help. What is dating violence and who does it happen to? Teen dating violence (also known as “intimate partner violence or IPV”) includes physical, psychological or sexual abuse; harassment; or stalking of any person ages 12 to 18 in the context of a past or present romantic or consensual relationship. Always remember that dating violence can happen to anyone regardless of their age, financial status, race, gender, sexual orientation, physical ability, or background. In other words, it can happen to anyone. What does teen dating violence look like? **You will notice that teen dating violence contains many of the same markers as domestic violence. The difference in terms (teen dating violence and domestic violence) is based on age and relationship status: Physical – hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, biting, strangling (sometimes called choking), cutting, physically restraining, hitting walls or doors, threatening with a weapon, scaring you by driving recklessly, forcing drugs, etc. Emotional and Verbal – name-calling, put-downs, intimidating or threats of harm, isolating from friends or family, demanding all time be spent together, intense jealousy, monitoring your schedule, using guilt, manipulating, dismissing, or invalidating your feelings or needs, treating you like property, insisting you ask for permission, humiliating you in public or private. Digital – monitoring your technology, using GPS to track you, constant texting, coercion for partner to send explicit images or texts, demanding passwords for email or SM, threatening over the phone or SM Sexual - forcing or manipulating you into having sex/sexual contact, holding you down during sex, choking or restraining during sex without consent, insulting you in sexual ways, hurting with weapons or objects during sex, involving other people in sex acts without consent, forcing you to watch or make porn. Stalking – unwanted following or watching you, unwanted approaching or showing up places (work, home, work), GPS tracking, sneaking into your car or home, spying on or recording you, unwanted phone calls including hang-ups and voice messages, unwanted texts, emails SM or photos, unwanted gifts, cards, letters, presents. Financial – taking your money, not allowing you to spend money on certain things, not allowing you to have a job. If you think you may be a victim of teen dating violence, you can call us at 719-275-2429 for free and confidential help.


    Intimate partner violence against men is much more common than you might think. It is present in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships. Social stigma surrounds all intimate partner violence, regardless of gender, but there are certain stigmas related particularly to men. Society's notion that men are the "dominant or more powerful" sex can lead a man to avoid disclosing his situation based on what people think. Fears of being seen as "weak" or "controlled by a woman" could keep an abused man alone and without help. A man might avoid reporting because he fears not being believed by his support system or the authorities. They might not believe that a woman could abuse a man therefore leaving him stuck in an abusive relationship. When there is abuse in an LGBTQ+ relationship, one partner might threaten to "out" the abused partner to keep them from reporting. This will often silence the victim and keep the abuse going. The victim might also doubt getting help from the authorities because of their gender expression. Keep in mind that not all domestic violence is physical. Emotional, verbal and financial abuse is also used against men. You can visit this blog post for a broader view of what domestic violence entails. Here are some important statistics regarding men as domestic violence victims: 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused (hit with a fist or hard object, kicked, slammed against something, choked, burned, etc.) by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. 1 out of every 19 U.S. men have been stalked in their lifetime to the extent that they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed. 1 in 20 (5%) of male murder victims are killed by intimate partners. More reasons a man might stay with his abuser: Love. The cycle of abuse is confusing, and feelings of love and fear of being alone often keep a victim trapped. The lack of services designed specifically for abused men. The idea that marriage is for life and that leaving is "sin". Concern for the children. An abuser might threaten to keep the children from a victim. Feeling unable to care for the children alone if the victim gets custody. Belief that the abuser will change. Financial concerns/lack of money/no job. Nowhere to go. Embarrassment and shame. The abuser's threats to kill themselves. The abuser's threats to kill the victim. Where can a man find help? Domestic Violence Hotline - call us at 719-275-2429. If you are not in our area, we will help you find a local agency or shelter. Someone you trust - a friend, family member, or spiritual leader. Keep in mind that people who also know your abuser are not the best choice to confide in. Health Care Provider Counselor or Therapist If you need help, please call us at 719-275-2429. If you are not in our area, we will help you find an advocacy agency close to your home.


    Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women, with close to half of all women reporting that domestic violence was the precursor to their homelessness. Research shows that 1/3 of all domestic violence survivors report becoming homeless upon leaving their abuser. If you think you may be the victim of domestic violence, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. Call us at 719-275-2429. There are a number of reasons for this. One major contributor to homelessness for domestic violence survivors is financial abuse. Along with physical and/or emotional abuse, financial abuse is present in 98% of abusive relationships and it is the #1 reason victims stay in abusive relationships. Financial abuse is when a victim is denied access to household funds, and this can even occur when they contribute to the household budget through their job. No access to bank funds or credit cards makes it almost impossible for someone to leave. Financial abuse also includes the victim being isolated and "not being allowed" to work. This puts someone in a situation with poor employment and/or credit history, making it difficult to find a job once they decide to leave. Domestic violence often includes isolation from family and friends who would normally be able to provide support for the victim once they leave the abusive relationship. As you can see a victim is often presented with the choice between staying with the abuser and having food and shelter for herself and her children, or becoming homeless, often with her children. Housing for victims is a necessary component of a victim being able to leave and start a new life without abuse. If you think you may be the victim of domestic violence, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. Call us at 719-275-2429.


    After an abusive relationship life can feel overwhelming, and it can be hard to figure out which direction to move. You might find yourself overwhelmed with feelings of loss and loneliness and the feelings of missing the abuser can be surprising. OR you might feel relieved and excited for the future. Most likely, it is a mix of both. Either way, there are some things you will want to consider. First of all, you are 100% worthy of love and peace in your life. The abuse that you suffered is not your fault - that responsibility is on the abuser. You now have the opportunity to heal and grow and create a new life for yourself and your children. This will take work, it can be painful, but it is worth the time and effort needed to go forward. Consider doing this work as a way of loving and valuing yourself. One thing to remember is that feeling the feelings is essential. Allowing yourself the time to grieve all of the feelings such as anger, disappointment, and even sadness at the time and relationship lost, is the only way to freedom. The old adage is true: the only way out is through. And the best way to make it through is by seeking support. Let's talk about healthy ways to move forward after abuse. You do not have to add all of these things to your life, nor is this an exhaustive list of things to do. Feel free to start small and pick what feels comfortable and safe. You get to choose your pace. Supportive Community An amazing place to find support is your local domestic violence agency. You will find counseling, support groups, housing and food resources, and much more. In Fremont or Custer counties, call 719-275-2429. Domestic violence agencies offer their resources free of charge and with a high level of confidentiality. One of the biggest factors to moving forward is having people around you that love you and want the best for you. If you are surrounded by loving people, great. If your support system is weak right now, that is OK. You probably have more support in your life than you think. Keep in mind that your support system can and will grow, but it does take time and effort. Look for support here: Family Friends Neighbors Advocate Counselor Coach Support Groups Your doctor Spiritual Community Community Groups 12-step programs or other recovery groups It is OK to start with one or two people you can trust. Life has a way of growing and getting better as you are growing and healing. The important thing is that you have people that you feel safe around and with whom you can be open with about what is happening in your life right now. Therapy, Counseling, and Support Groups Reaching out to a counselor or therapist can feel scary if this is your first time. This support, however, can be life changing. Being able to speak your truth in a setting that is both understanding and validating is priceless. Therapy and counseling provide a safe space to express and process emotions. When emotions are overwhelming and confusing, having the guidance and support of a counselor or therapist helps. It is common to carry feelings of shame and hopelessness after abuse. Your counselor or therapist can help you navigate these feelings. You will also be able to learn about new tools for going forward in life such as dealing with heavy emotions, working through shame and regret, growing your self-esteem, boundary setting and more. Support groups provide community at a time in life when you might be more isolated than you would like. You will feel less alone talking with others who have had similar experiences and who are moving forward with their lives. Groups provide hope for the future since some of the members will be farther along on their road of healing. When you are starting out, this can be highly motivating. Groups are also the perfect place to start building your support system. To find counselors and groups geared towards healing after abuse, visit our website: Positive Affirmations Abusive relationships tend to bring up self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and hypervigilance (among other things). It takes time to reclaim your life. Using affirmations each day helps to overcome some of the negative stuff swimming around in your mind. Abusive relationships usually include mental and emotional abuse which affects our thoughts. In fact, a large portion of our thought life comes from the things our parents, teachers, and partners have said to us in the past, and if those things are largely negative, it can create pervasive negativity in our thought life. Rehearsing these negative thoughts continues to do damage. Writing down affirmations and leaving them in places you will notice them often will help you start this habit. Saying at least one of these affirmations to yourself 20+ times a day will bring about change after some time. You are worth the effort it takes to do this! Try these affirmations or create your own: I know and trust my own mind. I am worthy of love, just as I am. I accept myself as I am. My home is becoming a haven of peace, safety, and love. I have firm boundaries and the strength to stick to them. I am capable of making decisions on my own. I am healing step by step, day by day. I am strong enough to feel my feelings. I am a whole and complete person on my own. It is an honor and privilege to know me, it is no one's right. Self-Care Self-care after an abusive relationship is an important way to engage in your healing. An abusive relationship is traumatic and emotionally taxing and your body and mind need time to rest. Giving yourself that time to rest is self-care. You may be feeling a lack of energy at this point, and that is 100% normal. Often, in the early stages of being on your own, simple tasks such as brushing your teeth and bringing the mail inside are overwhelming. Give grace and compassion to yourself, even if you think you should be doing "more". If you have lots of energy and feel very positive about the relationship ending, you can take on more at the beginning. The whole point is to do what works for you and what feels good. The best way to start with self-care is to start small. Don't create a giant list of things to do or you will end up burning yourself out. Keep in mind that self-care is "being mindful of your own needs and doing what it takes to care for yourself". Asking yourself these questions will help you figure out what you need: What refreshes you? What makes you happy? At home: At work: Experiences/activities: People: What makes life meaningful for you? What are you choosing that makes you happy or unhappy? It might take some time to answer these questions, and that is OK! Ideally, self-care will be a life-long process for you, and you can add or change things over time. Take a look at this list of self-care ideas. You might find some things that work for you, but feel free to add your own ideas. Self-care is all about YOU and what you need each day. A perfect way to start your day is to ask yourself "WHAT DO I WANT AND NEED TODAY?". Begin by picking one or two items and see how that feels. If you have more energy, do more. It is 100% up to you! Brush your teeth Drink water Movement, exercise, dance Spend time with family and friends Ask for help Do something creative Get enough sleep Drink water Say NO Read a book Listen to music Clean one room in the house Organize a closet Take care of plants Go out and get ice cream Don't forget to add your own ideas! It might feel "selfish" to make yourself a priority but be assured that it is not. Self-care is a way for you to love yourself, maybe for the first time, and it will help with your healing process, and you will find yourself liking "YOU"! Healing after abuse takes time and effort, but it can be done. You are worth the effort it takes! Reach out to us (Family Crisis Services @ 719-275-2429) if you need help. We are here for YOU!


    The SANE Exam is a way to collect evidence that may be on a victim's body after a sexual assault or an incident of domestic violence. A SANE Exam is done at a hospital by a specialty trained nurse, called a SANE Nurse. A SANE Nurse is educated in how to care for someone who has been assaulted. Feel free to call our office is you would like a confidential advocate to accompany you to your exam (719-275-2429). A SANE Exam is also called an evidence collection exam. Evidence that is sometimes collected is spit (saliva), bodily fluids such as semen, blood, vaginal fluid, or other physical evidence like body hair, dirt, or skin. Please note that you can go in for a SANE exam for either an attempted or completed sexual assault. YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO: Consent to have a sexual assault exam. Healthcare providers should not conduct a SANE exam or collect physical evidence without your permission. You do not have to report to law enforcement to have a SANE exam conducted or evidence collected. You have the right to have a sexual assault advocate present during the SANE exam if you so choose. Services are confidential and free of charge. You have the right to decline to do any part of the examination and the right to ask any questions you may have. You have the right to withdraw your consent at any time. You have the right to receive care without judgment or bias. BASIC COMPONENTS OF A SANE EXAM ARE: Your history: consists of questions related to the assault, as well as your medical history. It is intended to help identify injuries related to the assault and to guide the evidence collection. Physical Assessment of your body: the purpose is to identify injuries and document physical findings, such as bruises, marks, cuts, etc. Evidence Collection: This process includes 13 steps, and the exam is conducted in a sensitive and respectful manner. Any step in the exam can be declined. The evidence collection kit includes retrieving a variety of samples including debris (soil, fibers, grass, etc.), body liquids, blood, hair, urine, oral swabs, and genital swabs. Preventive care: medications are given to prevent STIs if necessary, and emergency contraception is offered to prevent pregnancy. Discharge, follow-up, and referrals: instructions are given regarding follow-up care for medical and counseling purposes with advocates. The sexual assault exam takes an average of 3-4 hours. This may be less or more, depending on the circumstances and extent of needed care. The evidence collection kit may be collected right after the assault and up to 120 hours after an assault. Because each case is unique, evidence collection outside the defined time frames may be considered on a case by-case basis COLLECTION STEPS: STEP 1: CLOTHING Try you best to remain in the clothes the assault happened in, our bring them with you to the hospital. Clothing frequently contains the most important evidence in a case of sexual assault. The most common items of clothing collected from patients and submitted to crime laboratories for analysis are underwear, hosiery, blouses, shirts, and slacks. There are also instances when coats and even shoes must be collected. STEP 2: TRACE EVIDENCE There may be material or fibers that are found related to the assault. This is identified as trace evidence. These materials can help to provide evidence beyond DNA swabs. It is collection of any hairs, fibers, or other materials. STEP 3: ORAL SWABS AND SMEAR In cases where the patient was orally penetrated, the oral swabs and smear can be as important as the vaginal or anal samples. The purpose of this procedure is to recover seminal fluid from recesses in the oral cavity where traces of semen could survive. STEP 4: FOREIGN STAINS ON BODY SWABS Semen is the most common fluid deposited on the patient by the offender. There are also other fluids, such as saliva, which can be analyzed by laboratories to aid in the identification of the perpetrator. It is important that the provider ask the patient about any possible foreign material left behind and examine the patient's body for evidence of foreign matter. STEP 5: EXTERNAL GENITAL SWABS If the circumstances of the assault suggest there has been contact between the victim’s genitalia and the offender’s mouth or penis WITHIN 5 DAYS of the examination, there exists the possibility that saliva or seminal fluid may be found on the patient’s external genitalia. In this instance, the entire pubic area should be swabbed. When the patient is prepubescent, external genital swabs should be collected instead of vaginal and cervical swabs. STEP 6: PUBIC HAIR COMBINGS Pubic hair can retain trace evidence from a sexual assault. For this reason, collection of pubic hair combings may be beneficial. If the patient is prepubescent or has shaved her/his pubic hair, external genital swabs would be more appropriate. STEP 7: ANAL SWABS AND SMEAR After fully explaining the procedure to the patient, put the patient in either supine or prone knee-chest position, there will be approximately 2 minutes for anal dilation to occur, then nurse will swab the anal cavity using the two swabs provided. STEP 8: VAGINAL/PENILE SWABS AND SMEAR Vaginal swabs should only be obtained in the adolescent (pubertal) and adult population of female patients. Prepubescent patients would have external genital swabbing only. When collecting the vaginal specimens, it is important not to aspirate the vaginal orifice or to dilute the fluids in any way. Utilizing a speculum in the patient who has reached the onset of menses, swab the vaginal vault using the two swabs provided. Collection of Tampons as Evidence The sexual assault examiner may find that the patient has inserted a tampon in response to menstruation or bleeding post assault, or the patient may have a tampon in from the time of the assault. The tampon may have absorbed residual semen from the offender. It will therefore be necessary to collect the tampon as evidence. For the male patient, both adult and child: the presence of saliva on the penis could indicate that oral-genital contact was made; the presence of vaginal fluids could help corroborate that the penis was introduced into a vaginal orifice; and feces or lubricants might be found if rectal penetration occurred. STEP 9: CERVICAL SWABS AND SMEAR As with vaginal samples, cervical samples are only collected in patients who are past onset of menses. The cervix provides an excellent source for sperm and DNA collection. The cervix serves as a reservoir for sperm as the flow of cervical mucus creates strands. STEP 10: FINGERNAIL CLIPPINGS/SWABBINGS Fingernail clippings are commonly collected on patients which may have been in a physical altercation during an assault. They may contain skin cells of the suspect and are simple to collect. Use clippers from kit and the nurse or patient may cut the fingernails onto the enclosed bindle. Nails from both hands should be included STEP 11: BUCCAL SWABS In some instances of sexual assault, dried deposits of blood, semen, or saliva may be found at the crime scene or on the body or clothing of either the patient or suspect. The purpose of collecting DNA Sample/Buccal Swabs is to determine the patient's DNA profile for comparison with such deposits. STEP 12: ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE This will vary based on the patient, history and circumstances of the assault. For example, it may be appropriate to swab a female's abdomen when she says the suspect ejaculated on her.


    Autonomy is about a person's ability to act on his or her own values and interests. At Family Crisis Services, we ensure that you get to use your voice and have control of your own decisions. The first decision you get to make is whether to report the crime or not. You have the right to make a report with law enforcement, and you also have the right to a confidential victim advocate. At Family Crisis Services we offer free, confidential support, and do not require you to report the incident to the police. You may call our 24-hour crisis line for help (719-275-2429). If you choose to go to the hospital to be checked out, our advocates can respond to the hospital at your request. We can help guide you through the process at the hospital, be with you during the SANE exam, and even be with you if choose to report to police. Our advocates will follow up with you to see how you are doing. We will offer you resources such as free counseling, small groups, legal advocacy, and community resources if needed. You get to choose what will help and work best for you. Utilizing our legal advocacy means that we help you fill out court paperwork for divorce, protection orders, and child custody forms. We also assist with helping you get prepared for court and accompany you into the courtroom during the hearing. We do not offer any legal advice; however, we can walk with you, supporting you the whole way. The staff at Family Crisis Services is available to support victims of sexual assault and domestic violence throughout the healing process, regardless of if the crime is reported to law enforcement. There is no timeline for healing, and we will assist survivors regardless of if their experience with these crimes occurred yesterday or years ago. The first step to healing is getting your autonomy back and having control over your own future. Family Crisis Services is ready to help you whenever you are ready to take that first step. Give us a call and we can discuss what services we could assist you with to get you started. If you think you may be the victim of sexual or domestic violence, please seek help from an Advocate. If you are local (Fremont or Custer Counties in Colorado) call us at 719-275-2429. You can also call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you feel you are in a life-threatening situation, please call 911.


    “But that’s my spouse.” When we get married or are in long term relationships, we have been taught that our partner is owed what they want. That statement meaning, when your spouse wants to have sex, you just give it to them, even if you do not want to. Forcing yourself to have sex because your pressured is not okay, that is marital rape. Victims experience not only vaginal rape, but also oral and anal rape. Researchers generally categorize marital rape into three types: force-only rape, battering rape and sadistic. Force-Only Rape This form of rape involves exerting power and control over the victim. In a force-only rape incident, the husband uses the level of physical force necessary to succeed in raping the victim. The attacks typically occur after the wife refuses to engage in sexual intercourse. Force-only rape attacks more commonly happen in marriages in which there are not many other occurrences of intimate partner violence (IPV) and most of the heated arguments are regarding sex. Dominating and controlling the victim in sex is the central motivator in this kind of sex crime. Battering Rape Battering rape involves sexual and physical violence. In occurrences of this type of rape, the victim may be battered by her husband before or during the rape. The perpetrator uses more physical force than is necessary to overpower and rape the victim. Most reported marital rapes are battering rape crimes. Usually, battering rape happens in marriages where there is a lot of verbal abuse and physical battering. The rapist may often be angry, hostile to his wife, and may have an alcohol or drug abuse habit. Many other types of violence may be inflicted on the wife by the husband in this kind of marriage. Obsessive/Sadistic Rape Sadistic or obsessive rape in a marriage involves the husband torturing his wife and committing acts of sexual perversion against her. The attacks include forced bizarre sexual acts and are frequently physically violent. Obsessive rape involves the husband acting on bizarre sexual obsessions in which he forces his wife to perform deviant and/or painful sexual acts. The husband may have extreme pornography consumption habits and fetishes. Most of us would never think of our spouses as a rapist or that they would sexually abuse you. Approximately 10-14% of married women are raped by their husbands in the United States. Approximately one third of women report having 'unwanted sex' with their partner. It is a myth that marital rape is less serious than other forms of sexual violence. There are many physical and emotional consequences that may accompany marital rape: Physical effects include injuries to the vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, soreness, bruising, torn muscles, fatigue, and vomiting. Women who are battered and raped frequently suffer from broken bones, black eyes, bloody noses, and knife wounds. Gynecological effects include vaginal stretching, pelvic inflammation, unwanted pregnancies, miscarriages, stillbirths, bladder infections, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV, and infertility. Short-term psychological effects include PTSD, anxiety, shock, intense fear, depression, and suicidal ideation. Long-term psychological effects include disordered sleeping, disordered eating, depression, intimacy problems, negative self-images, and sexual dysfunction. If these signs are present in your relationship, you will benefit by seeking help from a professional (therapist or counselor) or an advocate. It is often hard to tell what is “wrong” in an abusive relationship due to confusion from emotional, verbal, and mental manipulation. Telling your story to someone who knows the signs of sexual and domestic violence will put you on a path towards freedom and healing. If you think you may be the victim of sexual or domestic violence, please seek help from an Advocate. If you are local (Fremont or Custer Counties in Colorado) call us at 719-275-2429. You can also call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you feel you are in a life-threatening situation, please call 911.


    Anyone can be an abuser. Abusers are not confined to one gender, race, religion, or sector of society. Many abusers are only abusive with their current or past intimate partners, and it is common for people outside of the relationship to not notice the abusive side of their personality. There are, however, some traits that many abusers have that you can pay attention to. Traits of an Abuser: Abusers deny or minimize the seriousness of violence on the victim and other family members. Abusers objectify the victim and view them as their property or sexual object. Abusers may appear successful but, internally, they have low self-esteem and feel powerless or inadequate. Abusers put the blame on others or on circumstances. For example, they may blame a violent outburst on stress, their partner’s behavior, having a difficult day, drugs, alcohol, or other factors. Abusers do not respect your privacy. Abusers do not call you by your name. Warning Signs of an Abuser: Think of these as red flags, pink flags, and/or warning signs Extreme jealousy Possessiveness Unpredictability A bad temper or mood swings Controlling behavior Threatening Demeaning or humiliating the victim Sabotaging the victim’s ability to make personal choices Rigid or antiquated beliefs about male and female roles in relationships Cruelty to animals Rushing the relationship Isolating the victim Discount the word “NO” Using “we” or “us” to establish premature trust at the very beginning of the relationship Hyper-sensitive to anything perceived as criticism Charming Gaslighting If these signs are present in your relationship, you will benefit by seeking help from a professional (therapist or counselor) or an advocate. It is often hard to tell what is “wrong” in an abusive relationship due to confusion from emotional, verbal, and mental manipulation. Telling your story to someone who knows the signs of domestic violence will put you on a path towards freedom and healing. If you think you may be the victim of domestic violence, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont or Custer Counties in Colorado) call us at 719-275-2429. You can also call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If you feel you are in a life-threatening situation, please call 911.


    Domestic violence is violence that occurs in a domestic setting, such as marriage or cohabitation. Domestic violence takes place against partners (current or past), parents, the elderly, and children. It can take place between heterosexual or same-sex couples. The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any intimate relationship, past or present, that is used by one person or partner to get or maintain control over the other person or partner. Every year in America, 10 million women and men are victims of domestic violence and each day over 20,000 calls are made to domestic violence hotlines across the country. Clearly, this is a crisis in our country, as well as around the world. Types of Domestic Violence: Emotional and Verbal Abuse is a pattern of non-physical acts and behaviors that is meant to control, scare, or isolate a person. It lowers the victim’s sense of identity and self-worth and can cause a decline in their mental health. Here are some examples: Humiliating the victim in public or in private Name calling, shaming, put-downs, blaming Intimidating or threats of harm Isolating from supportive family and friends Demanding all time be spent together Intense jealousy Monitoring the victim’s schedule or their movements, monitoring victim’s technology, using GPS to track Criticizing, ridiculing, using guilt, manipulating Dismissing or invalidating the victim’s feelings or needs, or who they are as a person Threatening to kill themselves Deny or lying about an event Withholding affection or giving the silent treatment Treating victim like a possession or property Refusing to take part in the relationship Telling victim their ideas, opinions, thoughts, and/or values are invalid, illogical or “don’t make sense”. Physical Abuse is injury or trauma to the body that is deliberately caused. Here are some examples: Punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing, biting, cutting, stabbing, shooting, etc. Suffocating, strangling (sometimes called choking), scalding, burning Physically restraining or trapping in a room/closet, holding hostage, forcing drugs, or giving them without the victim’s knowledge Withholding food or medical care Hitting walls, kicking down doors, throwing objects, destroying property Threatening with a weapon or physical assault (this includes threatening to harm children and pets) Sexual Abuse is any non-consensual and/or non-sober sexual act. It can involve pressure or coercion and is often forced. This type of abuse frequently takes place in intimate relationships, such as marriage. Here are some examples: Forcing or manipulating victim into having sex or perform sexual acts Insulting in sexual ways or calling explicit names Choking or restraining during sex without consent Hurting with weapons or objects during sex Involving other people in sexual acts without consent Ignoring victim’s feelings about sex Forcing to watch or make porn Attempting to give victim an STI Financial Abuse is a way to keep a victim financially unstable as well as keeping them dependent. Financial abuse makes it difficult for a victim to leave an abuser in order to gain safety. Here are some examples: Controlling use or access to money Confiscating victim’s money, credit cards, or paycheck Hiding or taking funds Refusing to work or contribute to household budget Sabotaging victim’s work responsibilities (examples are calling and texting incessantly or unhooking car battery) Hiding or stealing funds Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention that is directed at a specific person and will cause that person to feel fearful and/or that they are in danger. Stalking is about power and control. Here are some examples: Mailing multiple cryptic messages or stealing mail Hang up phone calls Following victim in car or on foot Harassing phone calls or texts Leaving things, such as flowers or notes on doorstep Watching victim from a distance Hiding in order to spy on victim Trespassing on or vandalizing property Violation of order of protection Monitoring partner through technology, such as social media, hacking into accounts and/or GPS. Pet Abuse is when an abuser uses pets to coerce and control a victim. A beloved pet is like a family member and can, unfortunately, be used as a powerful tool in domestic abuse. Of course, these actions are a part of domestic violence, but are also animal abuse in themselves. Some signs of an abused pet include a tucked tail, flinching at human contact, unexplained fractures, unprovoked aggression, overly submissive, being left in a kennel or chained outside exclusively. Here are some ways an abuser uses a pet to control the victim: Threatening to harm, kill or get rid of a pet. Not allowing basic pet care such as feeding and access to an area to go to the bathroom. Not allowing money to be spent on the pet for basic items such as food or veterinary care. Threatening to get rid of a service or emotional support animal that is vital to the victim's wellbeing. Treating the animal better than partner and/or children. Religious Abuse is using scripture and/or traditions to force or coerce a victim to submit or behave. Using scripture and/or traditions to encourage someone to submit. Ridiculing or insulting the other person's religion or spiritual beliefs. Isolating you from your faith community or not allowing a person to practice their beliefs. Using the faith community to encourage someone to stay in an abusive relationship. Using scripture to blame the victim or justify the abuse. Using scripture or traditions to limit access to health care. Using scripture or traditions to control a victim's sexuality and/or reproduction. As you can tell, the types of domestic violence are many. Just because someone is not being physically abused doesn't mean they aren't being harmed. Other types of abuse can be just as traumatic as physical abuse, but without the bruises. If someone you know is in an abusive relationship of any kind, the best thing you can do is to listen and believe them. If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


    Documenting abuse can be a step in getting yourself to safety and out of an abusive situation. It can also help if you are planning on pressing charges against your abuser. If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. When documenting abuse, keep your safety as your number one priority. It is not uncommon for an abuser to hack into or monitor your phone, computer, email, and other online communications. This can make storing screenshots, pictures, and other conversations challenging. One suggestion is to open up a private email account on a computer at your local library and only access it there. That way your evidence is not compromised if your personal email address is being monitored. You can keep notes on each incident as well as pictures and screenshots. When documenting abuse, keep these 5 questions in mind: WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? HOW? Answer these in as much detail as you can. Consider things like threats, weapons, and objects used, witnesses, date, time, location, and exact quotes. Use words like hit, pushed, smacked, struck with an object (name the object used), or scratched when writing down what happened. Is the furniture overturned, vehicles damaged, holes in the wall, or the house in disarray? Write it all down in a safe, private email and send it to yourself through that same email address Sharing how the incident made you feel shows the impact it had on you. Take pictures of abuse right after is occurs as well as during the healing process. This shows proof of your injuries and can be used in court. Keep all photos in their original condition - no photoshopping or touching them up. Even touching them up for lighting needs to be avoided. Store them in your private email and delete originals from your phone. All hospital records need to be stored as well. Another item to keep track of is threatening texts. Do not respond to them. Screenshot and send these to your private email. If the abuser calls 40 times in a row, screenshot that as well. If the abuser calls, let it go to voicemail so their words can be recorded. Download the voicemail and save it in your private email. If possible, record verbal abuse on your phone while it is in your pocket. Only do this if you are sure the abuser will not be suspicious. Send all recordings to your private email and delete them from your phone. If you want to share your evidence with someone, make sure you can trust them. Sharing with mutual friends and family is not a good idea at this point. You might start feeling confident as you start collecting and documenting this evidence but avoid changing your behavior as it might arouse suspicion. Do not forget your goal. It is OK to take your time getting everything you need. If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


    Can someone I really know, and love hurt me? Yes, it happens more frequently than it is talked about. It can start with something small as making insults towards to even physical sexual violence. Sometimes we want to see the best in those we love, so we wear these eye blinders. The problem with these blinders is that it completely hides what is taking place. Let’s take off those blinders and look at fives examples of what intimate partner violence looks like according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey with the CDC. Sexual violence includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, unwanted sexual contact, and non-contact unwanted sexual experiences. Contact sexual violence (SV) is a combined measure that includes rape, being made to penetrate someone else, sexual coercion, and/or unwanted sexual contact. Stalking victimization involves a pattern of harassing or threatening tactics used by a perpetrator that is both unwanted and causes fear or safety concerns in the victim. Physical violence includes a range of behaviors from slapping, pushing, or shoving to severe acts that include hit with a fist or something hard, kicked, hurt by pulling hair, slammed against something, tried to hurt by choking or suffocating, beaten, burned on purpose, used a knife or gun. Psychological aggression includes expressive aggression (such as name calling, insulting, or humiliating an intimate partner) and coercive control, which includes behaviors that are intended to monitor and control or threaten an intimate partner. Control of reproductive or sexual health includes the refusal by an intimate partner to use a condom. For a woman, it also includes times when a partner tried to get her pregnant when she did not want to become pregnant. For a man, it also includes times when a partner tried to get pregnant when the man did not want her to become pregnant. In NISVS, an intimate partner is described as a romantic or sexual partner and includes spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends, people with whom they dated, were seeing, or “hooked up.” All these examples are real life situations that so many people find themselves in and sometimes they don’t even know how they got to that place. But you are not alone in this. Our team at Family Crisis Services is ready to help you through this extremely difficult time. We also offer a 24/7 crisis hotline that you are welcome to call and speak to at 719-275-2429. No one deserves to be abused and not a single person should go through this alone either. We are ready to walk beside you through this. You are not what has been done to you. If you think you may be the victim of abuse, please seek help from a Domestic Violence Advocate. If you are local (Fremont of Custer Counties) call us at 719-275-2429. Or you can call your local Crisis Center or the National Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

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