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Crossroads provides free resources to survivors of abuse

Interpersonal violence and domestic abuse happens in every neighborhood and is no stranger to towns like Fort Collins. 

Domestic abuse can look a lot of different ways, explained Sarah Wooldridge, the prevention and education manager at Crossroads Safehouse.

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“It’s less common that we actually see physical injuries of clients,” Wooldridge said. “They’ve sustained a lot of other abuse that’s more secretive and harder to prove.”

This “secretive” abuse can often be found in control, whether that’s emotional, financial or otherwise, she explained.

“I’ve heard more times than I can count, ‘Why don’t they leave?’” said Lisa Poppaw, the executive director of Crossroads. “Well, where are you gonna go if you’ve got no money, and you don’t have access to any of your finances? If you don’t have access to your birth certificate, don’t have access to your social security card, you’re not allowed to drive. You have kids. You have a dog. What are you gonna do? Just walk away?” 

Crossroads Safehouse in Fort Collins offers shelter, outreach, education, prevention, legal advocacy, a law firm and a 24/7 crisis line for survivors of domestic abuse, all free of cost.

The shelter is fully occupied 93% of the time, even with a maximum stay of eight weeks for each resident. Last year, the organization housed 415 individuals and had to turn away 415, Poppaw said.

We’d love to be able to provide enough services with prevention and outreach and education that we don’t have to provide emergency shelter anymore. Having said that, we’ll always be here.” -Lisa Poppaw, executive director of Crossroads

However, according to Poppaw, the organization never turns someone away from crisis housing for any other reason than full occupancy.

Crossroads also partners with other shelters in Northern Colorado and will check if shelter is available elsewhere for those in crisis situations.

“The only criteria for shelter is that you are in imminent danger from an intimate partner,” Poppaw said. “That could be a victim of stalking, domestic violence (or) sexual assault.”

Crossroads does not deny people resources due to any reason, including factors like citizenship status, and the organization only requests specific status information for grant reporting.

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“We do see a lot of victims who are too afraid to report crimes to the police because of (their immigration status),” said Meghan King, a staff attorney at Crossroads. 

Bringing Justice Home is the law firm inside the safe house, and they offer free civil legal services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

BJH provides full representation to Larimer and Weld counties and brief legal advice to rural mountain communities in Jackson, Routt, Moffat and Grand counties.

Last year, 169 of the 415 shelter clients were children, 243 were women and seven were men.

Across the board, men made up 16% of all Crossroads programming last year, including but not limited to emergency shelter.

Statistically, 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 4 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“The majority of our perpetrators are male, which is not to say that we don’t have plenty of men coming to us with either same-sex violence or from the opposite-sex partner,” Poppaw said.

Crossroads does not currently track non-binary individuals in their statistics, but they do make up a percentage of the shelter population as well.

Though shelter is a large part of Crossroads’ mission, the 415 shelter clients were only a percentage of the 3,368 people who used Crossroads’ resources last year.

A significant percentage of the organization’s services are in education and prevention.

Time to Talk is a peer-led education program in the Poudre School District high schools focused on preventing teen dating violence and teaching teenagers about healthy relationships.

Outreach is another facet of Crossroads’ services, and the organization offers safety planning, support groups and counseling for teenagers and adults.

“We’d love to put ourselves out of business,” Poppaw said. “We’d love to be able to provide enough services with prevention and outreach and education that we don’t have to provide emergency shelter anymore. Having said that, we’ll always be here.” 

These services are available for shelter clients, clients who have exited shelter, clients who may not need shelter or clients who, due to maximum occupancy, were not able to be accommodated in shelter.

As for future endeavors, Crossroads has received a three year, $449,513 grant for the Road Home’s Rapid Rehousing program, which will assist survivors of domestic violence with finding affordable housing.

All services are offered in Spanish and English, and Crossroads offers translation services for over 200 other languages.

Crossroads Safehouse requested this article to be published with the following disclosure:

“This project was supported by Grant No. 2019-WH-AX-0046 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Joey Wagner can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @joeyleewagner.

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