Story by: Connor Wist
DENVER — More people are being killed in Denver as a result of domestic violence. Last year, the Denver Police Department said six murders took place in those cases. That’s up from the average of 4.4 percent over the last five years. The department is implementing a new program that not only helps survivors, but also focuses on the offenders too.
“When you’ve gone through it, you know all the subtle and not so subtle nuances of abuse,” said Denver resident Cecelia Dunn.
Dunn experienced domestic violence in her marriage.
“I was married to him. You always want it to work,” said Dunn. “Unfortunately, we also tend to think we can change the individual.”
Two years ago, abuse and domestic violence nearly took her life.
“The choking was so fierce that I was starting to lose consciousness and I knew ‘Oh my God! He is really trying to kill me!’” said Dunn.
Today Dunn in an advocate for domestic violence survivors, a crime DPD sees too often.
“I can’t imagine a day that there isn’t one domestic violence call that comes out over the radio,” said Joseph Montoya, DPD Division Chief of Investigations.
Montoya is heading the new domestic violence prevention program.
“To actually affect the cycle of violence we have to approach the offender from a very non-traditional police approach,” said Montoya.
The approach involves patrol officers handing out packets with resources, giving them to both offenders and survivors even if a crime wasn’t committed.
“We can measure who we gave these resource packets to and if we are seeing repeat calls,” said Montoya.
DPD also has two new positions within the department as part of the pilot program. They will be responsible for collecting data from the packets handed out and doing outreach to households and individuals that may need counseling or resources.
The Rose Andom Center in Denver is one of the places listed to offer help. For Dunn, it’s allowed her to recover and become an advocate for survivors.
“God has allowed me to turn something that was meant for harm into something good,” said Dunn.
She has plans to go to college and to continue documenting her story by writing a book.
“What I am finding out is it’s never too late,” said Dunn.