Refuse to be a victim, be a survivor


Recent events have shaken the Torrington community and brought a very dark subject into the spotlight. Domestic violence is real, it’s happening in Goshen County and it happens more often than one would want to admit. However, we all know admitting there is a problem is the first step to overcoming a problem.

Michelle Powell, executive director for the Goshen County Task Force on Family Violence and Sexual Assault, recently told me Goshen County meets the national standard for the average incidences of domestic violence.

According to Powell, one in four females and one in 10 males will experience domestic violence in their lifetimes.

This means of the 6,553 females in Goshen County, roughly 1,600 females will experience domestic violence, and of the 6,789 males in Goshen County, roughly 680 males will experience domestic violence. (Population information obtained from the 2019 United State Census)

What does domestic violence look like?

Domestic violence is not always overt and plainly seen. Abusers often use several different types of abuse to establish power and control over their victim(s). These types of abuse include physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, intimidation, sexual abuse, sexual coercion, reproductive coercion, digital abuse, stalking and threats.

Physical abuse is the easiest to see as it is plainly seen. Abusers can leave marks, broken bones, bruises and, in the worst cases, inflict death. Emotional and verbal abuse are more difficult to detect as abusers will often show one face outside when they are interacting with others and another face when they are in the privacy of their homes.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides several common warning signs for abuse:

  • Telling you that you never do anything right.
  • Showing extreme jealousy of your friends or time spent away from them.
  • Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members or peers.
  • Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
  • Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
  • Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
  • Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.
  • Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets.
  • Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats or mace.
  • Destroying your belongings or your home.

When I worked as a law enforcement officer, one of the most common things I heard during domestic violence investigations was, “they forced me to have sex with them, but we are married, so I can’t say no.”

That statement used to and continues to infuriate me. Anyone, regardless of marital status, has the right to say no.

Sexual intercourse without consent is rape. Period.

Going back for a moment, let’s talk about power and control.

The Duluth Model was established in Duluth, Minn. by a group of concerned citizens who realized that holding an abuser accountable for their actions required a different approach. That approach must include the entire community.

Applying the Duluth Model to the community requires a mentality shift. The purpose of the model demonstrates the importance of shifting the responsibility for the victim’s safety from the victim to the community and state.

To achieve this, everyone must understand the community is responsible for holding offenders accountable for their actions. It is not the responsibility of the victim to hold the offender accountable. Abusers need to know their actions and behavior will not be tolerated, and it will take the entire community to make them understand this.

A major asset to any community is their rape and domestic abuse coalition. As residents of Goshen County, we are fortunate to have the Goshen County Task Force on Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

They provide a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency housing, emergency transport, help with filing protection, stalking and sexual assault protection orders, survivor advocacy and assistance referrals. They can also provide limited assistance with food and personal hygiene supplies, housing expenses, homes security items and relocations expenses.

Nobody should have to live in fear of abuse, physical or otherwise. If you or someone else are being subjected to any type of abuse, reach out to someone. It could save your life or another’s life.

As you may have read before, the Goshen County Task Force took a $20,000 cut this past year and they need all the help they can get. Consider donating to the task force to provide the aid they need. Your donation could significantly impact the life and wellbeing of someone in need.

The Goshen County Crisis Hotline can be reached at 307-532-2118 or by email at [email protected] They also have a business office located at 1933 Main Street in Torrington.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached by calling 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or chatting online at thehotline.org.

As always, if there is an immediately present danger, call 9-1-1. Law enforcement officers are well acquainted with the task force and would be happy to contact them for you.

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