COLORADO SPRINGS — As families gather and meet up for the holidays, domestic violence advocates are asking people to take the time to increase their awareness of an issue impacting a shocking number of households.

Data shows that every nine seconds in the U.S. a woman is beaten or assaulted. Unfortunately, the holidays can be an even more dangerous time for those at risk.

The holiday season is meant to be a season of peace, but statistics show that’s not the case for many people. Typically TESSA of Colorado Springs serves 15,000 people but recently they’re serving more than 22,000.

“It’s a little bit more unique and challenging for our domestic violence victims,” TESSA community engagement manager Rica Molet said. “It’s the additional stressor with the holiday, with the family, with the traveling, and with the financials with getting food and gifts for the holidays.”

Colorado Springs Police Department data about domestic related crimes

As the holidays are quickly approaching, advocates of domestic violence victims are worried. Just this past year, the Pikes Peak region has seen its fair share of domestic violence. TESSA said they are seeing more than just physical abuse. The abusers are becoming more tactful.

“They were using tactics to be like ‘I’m going to cough on you cause I have COVID’. They were using different tactics that we’ve never heard of, being very smart during COVID,” Molet explained. “Also seen a larger increase in those that are severe in nature. It may not be that physical abuse that people are seeing, we are seeing isolation, emotional, stressful, financial abuse that is all-encompassing when we are hearing their story.”

She added that it typically takes 7-10 times of abuse for the victim to leave their abuser. TESSA wants friends, family members and even neighbors to look out for red flags.

“Trying to remove that person from that abuser at that time. It could be de-escalating that situation at that time, whether it may be changing the subject or re-direct our energy to something else that is more joyous, so just be mindful of that,” Molet added.

TESSA is a confidential resource that provides support for free. For safe shelter or to request critical information, contact TESSA’s Safe Line at 719-633-3819. For additional support and general questions contact TESSA’s Main Office at 719-633-1462.

“There is family and friends out there that are there for you and want to help you,” Molet said. “If you can reach out to them they will be your biggest champions and supporters.”