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League of Women Voters discusses domestic violence

This story originally aired on FOX21 News.

The League of Women Voters of the Pikes Peak Region (LWVPPR) held a panel to bring awareness to domestic violence Saturday, March 25.

“It’s one of those silent topics that not a lot of people like to talk about, whether they’re embarrassed or whatever the case may be,” said Shelly Roehrs, a spokesperson for LWVPPR.

LWVPPR brought together eleven panelists from various different backgrounds including representatives from the police department, victim advocates, former prosecutors, members from support groups, and more.

“It’s making people know that there are places to go for help, that there is a community here to support you. The more we can talk about it, the more change we can effect,” said Anne Markley, CEO of TESSA of Colorado Springs.

TESSA of Colorado Springs is a local agency serving victims of domestic violence. Markley said domestic violence is especially prevalent in this community.

“On a monthly basis, we have over 1200 people call into our safe line, and that’s just for people that are choosing to pick up the phone and call,” said Markley.

Some panelists advocated for collaboration, saying it’s the only way this issue will be solved.

“No organizations want to work together…We can’t do it by ourselves, but together we can move mountains,” said Kristen Faith Sharpe, Founder of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence.

Others called for legislation.

“Colorado does not have its own DV (domestic violence) statute…Where law enforcement can basically go in and say ok I don’t have to wait for somebody to get hit I got enough on a primary aggressor that I can and shall arrest on this,” said Connie Stauffer, domestic violence victims advocate.

Law enforcement urged people to report these cases as soon as it happens.

“A lot of times it gets so far down they feel they can never get out…And then it takes a lot longer and many years to get these people out of that situation,” said Detective Jennifer Arndt.

But, there is also an understanding, that the first step is always the hardest.

“If you do choose to come in for support, we’re there to listen, to validate you, to believe you, and oftentimes that’s a really hard thing for people to be able to make that first step,” said Markley.

The panelists included:

  • Anne Markley, CEO of TESSA of Colorado Springs
  • Kristen Faith Sharpe, founder of Break the Silence
  • Alyssa Bravo, representative from the Haseya Advocate Program
  • Heather Manzanilla, victim advocate with the Colorado Springs Police Department
  • Jennifer Arndt, Detective, El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ashley Zamora, Detective, Colorado Springs Police Department
  • Janel Langdon-Isaac, Detective, Colorado Springs Police Department
  • Sarah Somers, victim advocate with the El Paso County Sheriff’s Office
  • Doug Miles, Former Prosecutor
  • Connie Stauffer, domestic violence victims advocate
  • Liz Porter-Merrill, public defender representative on the Colorado Restorative Justice

The panel was moderated by representatives from the League of Women Voters Pikes Peak Region.

This story originally aired on FOX21. Watch the clip below: