Domestic Violence in El Paso County: Leaders, Advocates Say Small Steps Can Equal Big Change | Part 4 of 4

By Durbin, Kaitlin | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), December 20, 2018 | Go to article overview

Domestic Violence in El Paso County: Leaders, Advocates Say Small Steps Can Equal Big Change | Part 4 of 4


Durbin, Kaitlin, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)


Editor's note: This is part 4 of The Gazette's 4-part "Shattered Lives" series on domestic violence in El Paso County.

Karyn Ragsdale Lorbiecki stayed with her abusive husband for nearly 20 years before succumbing to his rage in a shooting, leaving her family feeling “like there’s nothing that can be done” to prevent or stop the cycle of domestic violence.

They offered to help Karyn escape Greg Lorbiecki’s control, even moving her to a secret apartment at one point, but Karyn always returned to the relationship. After her death, Karyn’s family said they found a binder with pamphlets and domestic violence resources she’d collected over the years but never used.

“You can’t change their mindset,” Karyn’s sister-in-law Angie Ragsdale said as she wiped away tears. “There’s got to be something else.”

While advocates don’t agree that victims can’t decide on their own to leave an abusive relationship — because many do — they do agree that more needs to be done to protect victims and prevent violence. It’s not just about victims leaving, or police arresting away the problem or courts imposing lengthy sentences on offenders, TESSA Executive Director SherryLynn Boyles stressed at her organization’s Champions for Change Summit last year.

“We have to ask, what is it in our climate, in society, that we can affect to reduce the violence?” Boyles said. “Prevention is focused on changing the conditions that make it possible for violence to happen.”

Out of that summit, Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers formed the No Excuse for Abuse Task Force to develop strategies to reduce and prevent domestic violence in the community. It pulls together heads from all sectors, including public officials, law enforcement, youth outreach, the faith community and business leaders.

District 20 House Rep. Terri Carver, who sits on the task force’s public policy committee with Mina Liebert of El Paso County Public Health, says they are discussing ways to adjust policies or strengthen laws to effect change.

The committee is working to establish a local domestic violence fatality review board to examine tragedies in an effort to learn from them. The board will look at what steps victims might have taken to end the cycle of abuse and ask: what worked, what didn’t and why?

Those findings, Carver said, can be used to form better policies or training for professionals who work with domestic violence victims.

Denver has had a board for more than 20 years, and Gov. John Hickenlooper approved a statewide board last year, but a local board would be better able to identify “opportunities for intervention” within the Colorado Springs network, Carver said. There’s no timeline for when the board will be in place.

Another committee, Carver said, has made arrangements for advocates to go into Harrison School District 2 to educate youth about abusive relationships, because some do start at that age or kids could be seeing it at home.

That was one strategy Karyn Lorbiecki’s family suggested, but with more teeth. Karyn’s teenage daughter told Ragsdale she did have a domestic violence speaker at her school once but the type of abuse covered was at the extreme end of the spectrum; it didn’t match what her family had been suffering for years. Ragsdale remembers her niece saying, “I never considered that domestic violence would be tied to my life. It was just the way life was.”

THE SERIES

Part 1: Records show El Paso County among the worst for violence in Colorado.

A survivor's story: Tara Loo of Colorado Springs was nearly killed by boyfriend. Now, she's stronger and wiser.

Part 2: See why El Paso County is one of the hardest counties in which to win protection orders to guard against abuse.

Battle from the beginning: Winning protection often comes down to evidence, whose story is more believable.

Resource information: Multiple local agencies are available to help victims of domestice violence. …

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