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Local shelter hopes to combat rise in youth domestic violence

Over the past three years, SafeHouse Denver has tracked domestic violence incidents, particularly those involving someone under the age of 25 and a gun.

DENVER — Every year, the month of October is recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The hope is to raise awareness and potentially save lives.

As of September, 31 people sadly lost their lives as a result of domestic violence throughout the state, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. In Denver, four people have died, according to Denver Police.

"I’m really concerned that we are seeing an increased number of victims under the age of 25 and there are guns used in the domestic violence incidents themselves,” said Abby Hansen, Chief Program Officer at Safehouse Denver.

SafeHouse Denver is a local domestic violence shelter that supports survivors and their children through an emergency shelter, a non-residential counseling and advocacy center, and an extended stay program.

Each year Colorado’s domestic violence fatality report brings new attention to those who lost their lives as a result of domestic violence. That report often shows a troubling trend.

According to SafeHouse Denver:

  • 2020: 20% of the cases involved a victim under the age of 25
  • 2021: 23% of the cases involved a victim under the age of 25
  • As of September 2022: 25% of the cases involved a victim under the age of 25
Credit: SafeHouse Denver

"This is the highest number of young people that have come forward to report domestic violence that I have seen in the last number of years. And what is particularly concerning for me about victims who are under the age of 25 is often those survivors have children, have very young children, or are pregnant,” Hansen said.

Colorado is also seeing a rise in gun violence:

  • 2020: 6% of cases involved a gun
  • 2021: 8% of cases involved a gun
  • As of September 2022: 9% of cases involved a gun
Credit: SafeHouse Denver

"A gun doesn't necessarily have to be discharged for the perpetrator to maintain power and control. Threats with firearms is often enough to really scare and intimidate survivors of domestic violence,” Hansen said.

Domestic violence can appear in many ways:

  • Isolation
  • Reproductive Coercion
  • Manipulation
  • Physical, Verbal or Mental Abuse

“Whether or not you know it, you likely know somebody who is right now experiencing domestic violence. These numbers are staggering but it also means there are resources and support available through safehouse Denver and so many other community-based organizations,” Hansen said.

Raising awareness takes more than survivors, it takes a community.

"It’s really difficult when we see survivors who are already struggling with limited resources and who are experiencing trauma and crisis and safety concerns to really put the burden on them to reach out. Sometimes that's not possible. It takes the rest of the community to do that,” Hansen said.

SafeHouse is working to combat those numbers by expanding its Young Healthy Relationships Program.

>Video below: Abby Hansen and Sarah Budisavljevic with SafeHouse Denver discuss the rise in domestic youth violence and ways to address it. 

Below is a list of resources for victims and survivors experiencing domestic violence. 


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