*One in three women will be physically abused by their intimate partner at some point in her life.

*Three women are killed each day in the US by a current or former intimate partner.

*10 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year, leading to an increased risk of suicide, poor academic performance, and alcohol abuse.

On the evening of Oct. 20, a free multi-media event featuring dramatic and provocative stories of abuse and hope was presented at the Wells Fargo Theatre in Denver. The event was in honor of 10 years of vitally important work by the Center on Domestic Violence affiliated with the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Public Affairs.

Behind the Mask: Bringing Domestic Violence Center Stage represented the countless victims of domestic violence living behind a mask who hide their abuse from friends and family out of shame and fear. The evening highlight was a theatrical performance demonstrating the emotional and physical turmoil of domestic violence and the role of the Center on Domestic Violence as a vehicle for change. A silent auction included a special selection of hand-painted masks (on display and available for purchase) created by survivors, advocates and allies of all ages.

The evening ushered in the Center’s second decade of programs, graduate achievements, and community partnerships committed to ending violence against women. The event, taking place during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, drew nearly 400 community leaders, students, alumni, funders, policymakers and advocates from across the state and the nation. More than $50,000 was raised in conjunction with the event.

The Seedworks Fund, founded by Sue Hagedorn, a professor emeritus at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, generously matched $750,000. Hagedorn stated that applied research makes a difference at the center, and research combined with education and practice are the keys to changing lives in the community and the nation. The Gay & Lesbian Fund for Colorado, one of the evening’s sponsors, grant award to the center was a $5,000 challenge.

Bridget Orton, wife of Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton, and Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives Terrance Carroll, co-chaired the event. Orton is an accomplished woman in her own right as a trained social worker and a former court appointed special advocate (CASA). Terrance Carroll represented House District 7 in the Colorado State Legislature and served as Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives from 2003 until 2010. He is an ordained minister and currently an attorney with Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Carroll emceed the event.

Barbara Paradiso, director of the center and featured speaker, discussed the three critical areas of focus at the Center:

•Leadership: The center’s educational programs are designed to prepare transformative leaders for the domestic violence movement. The goal is to provide a growing pool of highly skilled individuals who can successfully promote change on behalf of domestic violence victims and their children in every community.
•Research into Action: The center is engaged in original research to test new strategies and identify solutions to ending domestic violence and building new alliances between the practice and research communities.
•Service: The center works in collaboration with local and national community groups to serve advocacy organizations as well as victims of domestic violence.
Established in 2000, the center is the only program of its kind in the country. Its mission is to end domestic violence by fostering institutional and social change thru leadership development, education, research and community collaboration.

A student of the Center on Domestic Violence, Patricia Garcia, witnessed domestic violence growing up–her mother was abused by Garcia’s father when Garcia was 10 years old. Garcia promised herself then that she would help other domestic violence abuse victims someday. Thirty years later, she applied to the Center’s master’s level program. She said she’s proud to be helping break the cycle and raising awareness in Denver and Washington–and creating change. She ended her story and the evening with a simple yet powerful request of the audience: “Help me make my story make a difference!” They did.

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