Tracey Lahthrop’s second husband threatened her children. He hit Lathrop until she bruised. When she divorced him, he stalked her. It took Lathrop years, several calls to the cops and persistence to finally get him out of her life.
Her story unfortunately is not unique.
One in four women will experience domestic violence their life, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lathrop spoke about her experience at the March Against Domestic Violence on Thursday afternoon in Craig. The event was hosted by Advocates Crisis Support Services — a Craig organization that reaches out to people in critical domestic violence or sexual assault situations.
“I’m here as a former victim, survivor and thriver,” she said. “Thriving is all about standing up and fighting for all that life has to offer and, in some cases, to fight for life itself.”
It takes a lot of courage and wherewithal to get out of a violent situation, Lathrop said. She works for Mind Springs Health, which is a mental health and substance abuse company with 13 clinics along the Western Slope — including one in Craig.
“Me and my babies were going to break the cycle of violence,” Lathrop said. “My daughter didn’t need to grow up thinking it was normal to be hit.”
Lathrop is proud of where she is now. But it took a strong support network and time to get out of her situation. Not everyone has the same resources.
That’s what the group is working to change.
The march was hosted in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness month. Sharon Farquhar, executive director for Advocates, said their goal is to start a conversation.
“It’s an epidemic of silence that allows domestic violence to continue,” she said. “The community needs to talk about it.”
When people have questions about bruises forming around their neighbor’s eyes, she said it was important to ask questions and provide support. Even something as simple as offering a phone to friend who might be in danger can mean a world of difference, she said.
About 20 people walked in the march from City Park to the Moffat County Courthouse. Most of them wore T-shirts that said “No more” or “No mas.” They smiled and waved at people in cars who honked in support.
Sgt. Corey Wagner, of Craig Police Department, said he wanted to walk with Advocates because of the large amount of domestic violence calls the police department gets.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to support this cause,” he said.
In 2012, there were more than 300 domestic violence 911 calls in Moffat County, said Travis Young, who works on sexual assault and domestic violence cases for Craig Police Department. It’s a little better this year so far, he said, but still a problem. It’s a challenge for people in a rural area like Craig to get out of a bad situation, he said.
“You can get stuck here in Craig, and it’s not as easy to leave as on the Front Range,” Young said.
Advocates tries to make it easier for people dealing with domestic violence. The organization maintains a shelter with an undisclosed location so people in crisis have a place to go if things get too dangerous. A hotline also is available for people seeking assistance.
“I think Craig is very typical of every community across the country,” Farquhar said. “Domestic violence is a hidden issue.”
Everybody in a community needs to stand up to address this type of violence — it’s not just a women’s issue, she said.
“When a woman is abused by a man, that’s a man’s issue,” Farquhar said.
But, she made clear that men can be abused, too, and need access to Advocates’ services, as well.
Advocates used the march to help people understand that there’s a resource in Craig for families who experience violence.
“The family is such a crucible of emotion. When times are tough, times are really tough in families,” Farquhar said. “We need to activate the community to talk about this and respond.”
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org.