In an act of domestic violence, Cara Russell was shot multiple times and killed at the hands of her estranged husband Tuesday at the Alliance Center in lower downtown.
Russell filed for divorce just a few months ago. Her husband showed up to her office on Wynkoop Street, shot her multiple times, then killed himself.
Domestic violence is often a topic kept in the shadows due to stigma, shame and fear.
"It is all of our jobs to help keep each other safe," said Lydia Waligorski, of the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
For nearly two decades, Waligorski has worked to change the perception so more victims can rebuild their lives. The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence believes leaving an abusive relationship should be thought of as a process, not a one-time event that can often cause the perpetrator to react violently.
"Does that mean people shouldn't leave abusive relationships? Absolutely not. What is does me is that people should be thinking is how can someone safely leave a relationship. So when we ask someone for instance, 'Why don't you just leave?' We're incorrectly assuming that leaving is going to make them safer," said Amy Pohl, with the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Pohl said every situation is different, but there are things a victim can do:
Identify the domestic violence. It doesn't have to be physical, it could be emotional and financial abuse.
Find a confidential advocate to talk about your specific situation. Go to the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence website to find a programs-by-county map with phone numbers and addresses of advocacy services.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline can locate a program near you: 800-799-SAFE (7233).
Reach out to a family member or friend that house you in the time being. If that resource is not available, a shelter is another option.
Safely gather important documents like passports, social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children.
Get a protection order.
These steps can work and Waligorski has seen it first hand after a former client told her work about her abuser.
"One of the things that they did was they posted his picture by the door, and had a description of his car and the day that he showed up to her workplace, the receptionist recognized him, locked the door, called 911 and they hid her in the breakroom which didn't have any windows to it. And when the police got there, they found him outside the parking lot they found him with a machete in the car and two assault weapons," said Waligorski.
That woman credits her coworkers for saving her life after she took the steps to protect herself.
Additional helpful resources:
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Colorado Address Confidentiality Program
Colorado Judicial Branch Protection Orders
National Domestic Violence Hotline