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Wednesday, October 27, 2021
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By: Reyna Martinez, San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit Director – Updated: 1 day ago
Posted Oct 25, 2021
SAN LUIS VALLEY – As the yearly calendar fills up with one month after another devoted to different groups and social causes, it is easy for all the months to blend together. However, there are some issues that have such an impact on so many lives that they warrant special events calling the issue to the forefront.
That is the case with this month, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, created to call attention to the devastating effect this pervasive crime has on the lives of the people involved. Nationwide, one in three women and one in nine men experience domestic violence in their lifetime. But in many, many of an already staggering number of cases, there are also children witnessing the violence at home. As an increase in crime victims can be observed in the local community, domestic violence in the teenage group is rising, as well.
An unfortunate characteristic of domestic violence is the reluctance victims of the crime have in speaking to others about what they are experiencing.  But people often have one person or one situation where they may feel safer than others, and it is being learned that one of those safer places for victims of domestic violence includes hair salons.
In 2002, a program titled “Cut It Out’ was born and implemented in the state of Alabama. In the years since then, it has expanded and become a national movement involving salons across the states, dedicated to mobilizing salon professionals and others to recognize the signs of violence and fight the growing epidemic of domestic violence in communities across the country.
This year, during National Domestic Violence Awareness month, the San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit welcomed the public to participate in the first annual “Cut It Out Domestic Violence Movement” event, hosted by Divine Beauty Bar Salon in Alamosa and organized in collaboration with the Adams State University Inter Students. . The goal was simple: to reduce, and maybe someday eliminate, the occurrence of this crime that not only damages lives but is the single most dangerous call law enforcement officers have to respond to.
Members and professionals in both groups voiced specific reasons why this particular cause was of personal importance.
Mary Stoltzfus, co-owner of Divine Beauty Bar, said, “As a stylist, we’re lucky to develop a close relationship with our clients. That relationship allows for a comfortable environment to share delicate information. It’s important for us to have open communication with our clients and to have the awareness and knowledge of how to navigate signs of domestic violence. “
Jill Cantu, a nail technician at the salon, works as a victim’s advocate with a special focus on the children involved in the situation. As a former fifth-grade teacher in Alamosa with thirty years of experience, Cantu feels especially drawn to helping these youngest victims of the crime.
ASU Inter students William Maples and Geno Nava had a joint statement. “Domestic violence awareness is important to celebrate survivors and help victims get the help they need. It’s important for victims to be able to communicate with others to know they at they’re not alone. It’s Important as victim advocates to offer help and services to victims of domestic violence. This issue is very important to us personally because we know people who have been victims of domestic violence. Having the opportunity to help others such as victims of domestic violence is very important and rewarding work.”
Stoltzfus also shared that it was important to her to personally show her support in this issue, and she was moved to see how many people in the community, including the mayor and sheriff and other civic leaders, supported increased awareness of domestic violence, as well.
Reyna Martinez, director of the San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit, wanted to extend her personal gratitude to those without whose help and donations would not have been possible, including the SLV VRU volunteers, your local Starbucks, City Market, Walmart, Safeway, SLV Quilt Guild, Sparkling Kindness Foundation and Sweet Life Bakery in addition to the support from the Alamosa Sheriff’s Office, Alamosa Police Department, Adams State Police Department, Colorado State Patrol, Alamosa Mayor Ty Colman, Alamosa County Commissioner Lori Laske, and the Victim Advocates of the 12th District Attorney’s Office.
Anyone interested in being a victim advocate volunteer is invited to reach out to their local sheriff’s office.
Anyone who is a victim of domestic violence and/or crime is strongly encouraged to reach out to the San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit, who are committed to offering support and assistance. Phone number is 719-589-6608.
The San Luis Valley Victim Response Unit (SLV VRU) is a coordinated and collaborative effort of four counties (Alamosa, Costilla, Conejos and Mineral) 16 law enforcement agencies that provides 24-hour year-round crisis intervention to victims of crime in the 12th Judicial District. The purpose of the Victim Response Unit is to fulfil the Colorado Victims Right Amendment and help balance the scales of justice for victims by advising victims of their rights, providing crisis interventions, on-going support, information referring to their case, referrals for other community services, and notification. It is SLV VRU’s goal to work towards creating a network of open communication and interdependency with all agencies and programs in the community that provide services to crime victims, in order to deliver high quality and efficient services. SLV VRU is committed to serving the community.
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