COLORADO SPRINGS — For some close to the family killed in Sunday’s shooting at a mobile home park, they’re now on a mission to make sure something like this never happens again. For one of them, that starts with making sure everyone knows the resources available to those in abusive relationships.
Colorado Springs Police say the man suspected of shooting and killing six family members at a birthday party Sunday morning was the boyfriend of one of the victims.
A close family friend told News 5 “they were just enjoying a good time celebrating the birthday. Unfortunately because of domestic violence, it took half a family.”
“It’s terrible that tragedy brings things to light,” said Anne Markley, CEO of TESSA Colorado Springs. “None of us deserve to be hurt. None of us deserve to be in a position where we feel any less than we should be.”
That’s the mindset that drove Markley to get involved with TESSA.
“For the last 44 years, TESSA has been operating in El Paso County and Teller County as the only provider of confidential victim services for individuals experiencing domestic violence,” Markley said.
She said in order to get help in an abusive situation, the first step is realizing there is abuse.
“Abuse doesn’t just come in a physical form,” she said.
Oftentimes, it starts as emotional, or even financial abuse.
“They can’t spend money without permission, without approval,” she said. “They’re given just a certain amount of money.”
Other controlling behaviors like limits on where someone lets their partner go or who they can see are also signs it may be time to reach out for help.
“TESSA Is here to help people through that process,” she said.
--A process that some communities face higher barriers to get to.
“Our rural communities tend to be more difficult,” Markley said. “Fortunately at TESSA, we operate in Calhan and up in Teller County.”
And when it comes to getting that help, it’s confidential, and it’s up to the person seeking it to decide what they’re comfortable with.
“As far as coming to us, there is no judgment, that’s what we’re here for,” Markley said. “We’re not going to engage law enforcement unless you tell us to, we’re not going to tell anyone else in the community unless you give us the permission to do so.”
Reaching out is--
“Empowering,” Markley said.
--And if you’re going through an abusive situation. Help is just a phone call away at TESSA’s Safe Line at 719-633-3819.
“You’re deserving of the help that’s out there,” she said. “You’re deserving of being able to forge a new path for you, your family, whatever that means.”
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.
The Pueblo Police Department finds this year's numbers of domestic violence cases "concerning," releasing a video that brings awareness to the severity of the situation. They believe the rise in cases is largely in part to the pandemic and quarantining.
According to Pueblo PD, many people have lost their jobs during this pandemic, making it more difficult to pay bills and causing an increased level of stress.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence cites studies that show 36.8% of women and 30.5% of men in Colorado experience some form of domestic violence in their lives. Additionally, 12.3% of the homicides in Colorado for 2020 were committed by intimate partners and another 9.9% by family members, according to Colorado Crime Statistics compiled by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
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