Nonprofit helping with rise of domestic violence during pandemic

Survivor Derik Grimes talks with News 5's Elizabeth Watts
Posted at 5:00 AM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 19:51:24-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — As we work to rebound from the effects of the pandemic, we want to raise awareness about domestic violence, as numbers are up compared to previous years.

A newer nonprofit

Kingdom Builder’s Family Life Center was founded in 2013 by Lisa Jenkins.

She’s a domestic violence survivor who found her calling in helping others break the cycle of abuse.

The nonprofit has enough grants to help 50 people but so far this year they’re already helping 80.

They help with everything from legal fees, housing, emotional support to job help, getting people in a safe house, and more.

“A lot of times when you’re in that situation it takes multiple times before you can get out of it. So family, initially, probably wanted to help you but you chose to stay (multiple times so they stopped trying). So, I’m just grateful I’m able to provide that type of service and support that families would need to move forward in life,” Jenkins said.

One woman’s story

Survivor Melissa Hall said it took her nearly ten years to break free from her abusive relationship.

“Sometimes I think it takes numerous times to get out because you’re scared, you go back. Or you're manipulated, or you’re told, you know- it's a cycle,” Hall said.

The stay-at-home mom was at one point homeless and said previous attempts to get help were unsuccessful.

Survivor Melissa Hall speaks with News 5's Elizabeth Watts
Survivor Melissa Hall speaks with News 5's Elizabeth Watts

In her relationship, she said there was a lot of manipulation but with the help of Kingdom Builder advocates, she was finally able to break free.

“It’s amazing because it’s a place that you can come and someone’s really gonna walk alongside you, and they’re really gonna care about who you are and they’re going to help you make a success plan and set you up for that success,” Hall said.

Hall would go into Kingdom Builder's weekly and work on her personalized success plan and said now she and her kids are in a good home. She volunteers and works to fight for social justice reform and is thankful to have found her voice.

Men are victims too

Derik Grimes is a father, a fly-fisherman, a military service member, and also a domestic violence survivor.

“It’s not something I’m proud to say I am, but it happened,” Grimes said.

Things with his wife of less than a year got so bad at one point he says he had to call the police. He wishes he had known about some red flags earlier on, some of which shocked him.

“I was thinking you had to get hit, choked, stuff like that, but no, it’s taking your keys, taking your wallet, taking your cell phone, false imprisonment type of things. It’s controlling you financially. It’s little things like that that are (also) considered domestic violence,” Grimes said.

Grimes said what made things even more difficult was that people didn’t take him seriously.

“I was having a hard time finding other organizations that would actually believe me and talk to me and believe my side of the story, even with evidence I was trying to give them and stuff. They wouldn’t look at it,” Grimes said.

Kingdom Builder's Family Life Center did. They helped him move forward with counseling and legal fees.

Domestic violence: Men can be victims too

Founder Lisa Jenkins said it can be rare for men to be brave enough to come forward, “A lot of men are not reporting and they’re embarrassed. Because they (others) may say- well, how do you let this woman hit you and you’re 6’3”.”

National numbers show one in three women and one in four men have experienced physical abuse. The men’s number may be under-reported because of the stigma. Jenkins said there’s also that lack of awareness that domestic violence comes in many forms.

“Most think that the physical is what is domestic violence. I’ve had several men come in and didn’t have a clue that because it wasn’t physical that they were being abused,” Jenkins said.

Grimes said he’s so thankful for the help he received, “A weight off my shoulders to know finally I have someone that will sit down and talk to me, to believe me and help me through this process.”

He wants to encourage other men to reach out for help because it is out there.

Call for help are rising

Kingdom Builders said it's working to help marginalized communities break the cycle of domestic violence.

Founder Lisa Jenkins is a survivor herself, “I knew that if I didn’t get out of that (relationship), that he was either gonna kill me, or I would have had to kill him to defend myself. I chose to live.”

Her abusive relationship started at age 19. She had her family’s support when she escaped years later and decades after that, she founded Kingdom Builder's. Now Jenkins helps other victims become survivors.

The small nonprofit helps our community in many ways and really works to let the victims lead the way.

Lisa Jenkins founded Kingdom Builders in 2013
Lisa Jenkins founded Kingdom Builder's Family Life Center in 2013

“Everybody’s story is different. Everybody’s success looks different. And we don’t want to tell them what they need to be successful, we want them to tell us how we can support them,” Jenkins said.

Numbers from Pueblo Police and the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office showed an uptick in domestic violence calls from the year 2019 to 2020.

Jenkins said it’s not surprising due to the isolation stemming from the pandemic, “When you’re already in a home that’s already hostile or violent, and now the abuser is there all day long.”

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

People of color may be afraid to come forward

About 90 percent of Kingdom Builder's clients are men and people of color.

Jenkins said it’s tough for many to come forward because there are trust issues at play.

“We tend to kind of (say)- I don’t want to report, what if they try to remove my kids or things like that. So you’re not really trusting. And especially the undocumented. There’s the worry of- If I report it would that risk me being deported or risk something bad happening to my family,” Jenkins said.

She said Kingdom Builder's is there to help and it takes a community to break the cycle.

“For me, it was about figuring out who I am and how to nurture myself and how to take care of me,” survivor Melissa Hall said.

“Don’t be ashamed that it happened to you because it does happen. It happens to a lot of people. A lot of people just don’t speak up,” Derik Grimes said.

This nonprofit and its survivors working to change the narrative and stop domestic violence so everyone has a chance to live full, healthy lives.

Help is available

It also has a youth mentoring program so kids can grow into healthy, fulfilled leaders.

Jenkins said funding grants help keep them running but they always appreciate outside funding, donations of items for their safe house, and volunteer support.

They have a 24/7 crisis hotline and if you need help or want to help don’t hesitate to call 719-464-4647.

There’s also a chat feature on their website. To learn more click here.

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