Locally, the need for domestic violence services has increased significantly in the last four months. In 2007, the San Miguel Resource Center served 203 clients. That number has increased to 217 in 2008, with all of this increase shown in the fourth quarter.
While this represents a 7 percent increase for 2008 overall, it represents a 54 percent increase for the fourth quarter.
This trend parallels increases in the need for services statewide since September 2008, as reported by Denver area programs and shelters, hypothesized to relate to problems in the economy. While overall crime figures tend to remain stable during times of economic crisis, intimate partner violence historically has increased.
Local funders such as CCAASE, San Miguel County, the Town of Telluride, and Telluride Foundation have primarily maintained funding at stable levels for the San Miguel Resource Center for 2009. Nancy Anderson, executive director, indicated that she believes and hopes that this stable support, despite the economic squeeze felt by local governments, reflects an understanding that while resources for nonprofit agencies become tighter, the need for essential social services increase during times of economic downturn. We are grateful that our funding partners recognize the critical need for our services.
While we are still unsure whether private donations will decrease in 2009, we remain hopeful that private donors will also recognize the increased need for our services.
Prior to this increase, the level of domestic violence and sexual assault client service has slowly but steadily increased every year since the SMRC opened its doors in 1993.
We believe that this increase, until now, has primarily reflected our increasing ability to reach those needing services, as well as the overall trend towards a growing population in our service area. This most recent spike, however, is more sudden and dramatic.
In 2008, The SMRC provided 2,088 phone service calls and 1,333 face to face contacts, compared with 1,337 phone service calls and 1102 face to face contacts in 2007.
Prior to this very recent spike in the demand for domestic violence services, national rates of intimate partner violence have remained fairly steady since 2004, following a modest decline from 1993 to 2004, which paralleled the trends for all violent crimes. During this period from 1993 to 2004, there was also a decrease in the number of intimate partner murders. Interestingly, however, it was the murder of male intimate partners that decreased the most, despite the fact that the vast majority of intimate partner murders occur against female intimate partners. Murder of female intimate partners decreased only slightly. Nationally, 74 percent of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner, and of these, 96 percent are females killed by their intimate partners. (Violence Policy Center (VPC), American Roulette: Murder-suicide in the U.S., Apr. 2006)
Overall numbers of incidents of domestic violence remain at epidemic proportions, with an average of one in 32 U.S. households affected by domestic violence annually (National Crime Victimization Survey, Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics, DOJ (US), April 2007).
While sobering, the San Miguel Resource Center is pleased to provide services that meet the needs of those struggling with the effects of domestic violence, services such as emergency safe-housing, 24 hour crisis hotline, criminal and civil legal advocacy, assistance with protection orders, and housing assistance. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, please call 728-5660 in Telluride, 327-0566 in Norwood or 864-2275 in Nucla/Naturita.