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Here's how to spot the signs of abuse in a relationship

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Posted at 5:59 AM, May 11, 2021

COLORADO SPRINGS — Sunday's mass shooting in Colorado Springs appears to be the fourth most deadly in our state's modern history. Colorado Springs Police believe the suspected shooter, in Sunday's mass shooting, was the boyfriend of one of the victims, and those close to the family are calling for more attention on the resources to help those in abusive or violent relationships.

So how do we spot the signs of abuse before someone becomes another troubling statistic? Experts say, one giant red flag has to do with finances.

"People will say I couldn't leave because I didn't have any money," said Kirk Ray Smith, a domestic violence awareness advocate. In an interview with our news partners, Smith said anytime someone exhibits that level of control, it's a red flag. "It's anytime a person tries to take control or seize control of your financial position, even if it's money you've earned," he said.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between 94 and 99 percent of domestic abuse survivors also experience economic abuse.

The other signs aren't always so obvious. Usually, physical abuse isn't what comes first, but creeps in slowly. It could start with a put-down or insult here and there. Then an odd excuse to keep the victim away from loved ones, along with economic control.

For more information on how to identify abuse, click here.

Gun safety advocates are pointing out, there is a connection between mass shootings and domestic violence. For instance, research conducted by Everytown for Gun Safety, found 50 to 60 percent of of mass shootings have some connection to domestic violence. Usually, the victims killed were an intimate partner or a family member of the shooter, or the shooter themselves has a history of domestic violence.

RELATED: Gun violence buried amid the pandemic

The most recent data available from the El Paso County Sheriff's Office shows a sharp increase in domestic violence calls from 2019 to 2020, with 2,602 cases last year. Pueblo Police report a similar concern with the number of cases in 2020 at the highest levels since 2016.

Domestic violence calls for help
Domestic violence calls for help from Pueblo Police and El Paso County Sheriff's Office

Local, statewide and national resources available for victims of domestic violence:

  • TESSAcs.org / 719-633-3819 - TESSA works to help all victims of domestic violence, sex assault, stalking, and human trafficking. They provide shelter with a 34-bed safe house in El Paso and Teller counties, access to legal support and advocates, and have a 24/7 Safeline.
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline - thehotline.org/ OR 1-800-799-7233
  • YWCA Domestic Violence Hotline - 719-545-8195
  • A Community Organization for Victim Assistance (ACOVA)
  • Nicole's Army - A Facebook Group for help, support, and resources