VALLEY — It is vital to have awareness and commitment from the community when it comes to relationship violence. Imagine being terrified of leaving your abuser, but not being able to do so because of your immigration status. For immigrant victims, the fear of being separated from their families and being deported to a place they no longer consider their home is one of the main factors why keeping silent is a better choice.
For Maria, that was the main reason why she endured years of horrendous abuse at the hands of her partner. On the day that law enforcement was finally called by somebody else, she was too afraid to speak. She remembers seeing the ICE officers come to her house to take her partner and being terrified of them coming back. She was reassured by staff from the sheriff’s department that she was safe and didn’t have to worry about her immigration status.
As a victim of crime, Maria was later eligible to apply for a U-Nonimmigrant Visa and received that a few years later. With the current political climate, Maria expressed that if this were happening now she would not dare to say anything or look for help.
“Relationship violence is not OK, but it is OK to ask for help,” is the message that the Stand Up Colorado Campaign wants to convey. It is important for the entire community to be involved and committed to not tolerate relationship violence. It is also the responsibility of those who use abusive behaviors to ask for help in order to change their behavior.
The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, along with the Denver City Attorney’s office and Colorado Attorney General Office, have created the Stand Up Colorado Campaign to increase community understanding of relationship violence. The hope is to create a social climate of zero tolerance and community-specific responses to relationship violence, to support behavior change for people who use abusive behavior, and to provide those who are experiencing abuse with the resources needed.
Ultimately, the campaign intends to decrease the incidence of relationship violence in Colorado. Stand Up is a relationship violence campaign that goes beyond awareness and wants to alter behavior and create long-term social change. The movement will prevent relationship violence in the future by inspiring individuals and the community to have a zero-tolerance public attitude about this issue.
Creating an environment where neighbors, friends and family are invested in keeping everyone safe is a goal of Stand Up Colorado. In cases like Maria, perhaps her partner could’ve sought help for his abusive behavior and Maria could’ve found resources sooner to keep her family safe.
The San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource in collaboration with Tu Casa is excited to bring Stand Up to the San Luis Valley. There are many ways to get involved such as signing pledge cards, sharing the message with others and being active community participants to not tolerate this behavior. For more information contact Carmen M. Stevens at (719) 587-3225 ex. 13. Stevens is a Immigrant Advocate
at the San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center.