Domestic violence deaths up in Colorado; survivor shares story

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DENVER — The amount of people dying in Colorado from domestic violence is on the rise. A new report shows more people died in 2018 compared to 2017.

Read: Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board Annual Report 

A survivor of domestic violence is speaking out as a state-commissioned board works at ways to prevent more people from being victimized.

In early December 2016, Bridget Dyson arrived at her Brighton apartment complex as an unwanted visitor was hiding outside. Anthony Dyson, the ex-husband, was waiting behind the building where Bridget lived.

“He had beaten me, stole my keys, ran over my head,” Bridget said.

She was left for dead with a tire mark over her forehead. Doctors used part of Bridget’s right leg to reconstruct her skull.

Anthony is in prison serving a 35-year sentence.

“A lot of people aren’t aware of the impact domestic violence has,” said Attorney General Phil Weiser.

Weiser chairs Colorado’s Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board. The group issued its second annual report on Thursday. The report focused on 2018 statistics. In 2018, at least 43 people in Colorado died from domestic violence — up from 39 people in 2017.

“Part of what we have to get better at is people saying something,” Weiser said. “A lot of times people remain silent.”

Bridget’s story is helping raise awareness. She, too, was in fear and was threatened previously by her attacker.

“We were in a heated argument, and he threw me up against the wall and said, ‘Is this what you want me to do — kill you?” Bridget said.

Those behind the report hope Colorado’s soon-to-be Red Flag law will make a big difference by removing weapons via extreme risk protection orders.

The report also looks at juvenile offenders. It recognizes a need to do a better of job treating younger perpetrators at an early age. The group is also examining sentencing procedures. Currently, the board says DV offenders sentenced to jail or prison do not receive prevention treatment. Only those issued probation receive that help.

“One of the challenges, sometimes, is someone [is] a prior abuser,” Weiser said. “They don’t get any therapy, support, guidance. They go back and do it again.”

Bridget, who now volunteers as a victims’ advocate, says a simple question can lead to life-saving results. If you know someone living in fear, consider asking, “How can I help?” Ending the cycle of silence is key.

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