Research: Domestic violence awareness is lacking

A research project conducted last month in Craig confirmed what one local group already knew.

A report from the Domestic Violence Research and Action Coalition indicates that residents don't know enough about domestic violence in their community.

"Overall, information about domestic violence and the local services, as well as (their) limitations, is well-known among the professionals, but too little discussed in the wider community, leading to a passive kind of tolerance for domestic violence," a report from the coalition read.

Coalition members include University of Colorado faculty and graduate students, health professionals and domestic violence victims.

The coalition formed after a dialogue in 2003 sponsored by CU's domestic violence and health science programs, according to the group's Web site.

The report was released at the same time that Advocates-Crisis Support Services and community members are preparing to launch an education campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Information from the project showed that starting the campaign now was a timely decision, Advocates Executive Director Pat Tessmer said.

But results show the organization and other agencies still have work to do.

The research project found services to domestic violence victims aren't well known in the community. Many respondents said they weren't aware of services that Advocates provides to victims. Tessmer hadn't expected those comments.

"I guess it was surprising that not everybody knew about us," she said.

Advocates' next task: becoming better known in the community.

"Certainly, we need to get more name-recognition for Advocates," Tessmer said.

After gathering input from 39 residents in various fields, coalition representatives concluded that other factors, including pervasive community attitudes, can contribute to a perceived acceptance for violent acts in the home.

Law enforcement and area groups have made "valiant efforts" to curb violent acts against family members, group members said.

Still, according to the report, those agencies haven't been able to offset other factors, including what participants called Craig's "pioneering spirit of independence."

"Craig, like many small towns, was described as a place where there is little anonymity, but people don't always know what goes on behind closed doors, and they don't necessarily want to," the report read.

Tessmer said she has seen a similar trend in Craig, albeit not with all residents.

Group members also identified alcohol and drug abuse as factors contributing to domestic violence.

Advocates administrators plan to use research project data during the next phases of its education and prevention campaign.

But the coalition's findings could have an impact outside of Craig.

"I think that research is crucial, because it drives policy and funding, which can go hand in hand," Tessmer said.

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