Shelter Struggling: Domestic Violence Calls on the Rise

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Domestic violence calls in Mesa County are on the rise and a local shelter is struggling to keep up.

Investigators respond to dozens of domestic violence calls a day and never know what they could find. On March 30th they found Anna Marie Macias, who was eight and a half months pregnant, shot in the neck and her boyfriend on the run.

Fve months later a judge sentenced him to 102 years in prison for her murder.

According to the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence,
nearly 50% of all murders in Colorado are committed by a current or former partner.

Counselors say in the average abusive relationship, it takes the victim seven to 11 times to leave their partner.

"This is someone you love and you think loves you," Carla Kitzman, a counselor with the Latimer House, told 11 News on Monday.

Kitzman says it usually takes something drastic to get men and women to ask for help.

"Things are probably out of control, somebody's getting hurt physically or verbally," said Kitzman.

The Latimer House says its crisis line is ringing off the hook. Last year the center got just over 2,400 calls. This year counselors expect 3,000. Because calls are on the rise the shelter almost had to move women to a facility in another city because it's been near capacity for several weeks. The center does not turn anyone away.

Mesa County has seen a nearly 30% jump in domestic violence calls in the last four years receiving almost 200 calls in 2007.

Law enforcement officials and domestic violence groups say it may be because of the growing population and high profile cases like Macias' getting more publicity.

"If nothing else it teaches you you don't have to let this happen and it doesn't have to get this far," said Kitzman.

Counselors like Kitzman say they carry a burden trying to help women in dangerous situations.

"Of course you think could we have done anything different to reach out? But ultimately it's up to the individual to ask for help."

And she hopes victims will ask for help before the police are called out and before a family loses a daughter.

If you or anyone you know is in an abusive situation and needs to talk to someone, just call the Latimer House Crisis Line at 241–6704.

Again counselors will never turn anyone away.

The shelter says it will keep an eye on the numbers and may have to look at building a new facility.

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