FARMINGTON — Local law enforcement and human services workers hope to draw public attention to domestic violence this October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

A series of events in and around downtown is aimed at raising awareness and letting victims know that recovery services are available throughout the city.

Domestic violence incidents remain at high levels in San Juan County, and demand for shelter care has risen.

Farmington's Family Crisis Center shelter reported an increase in men being abused this year. Overall demand for shelter space has increased 22 percent from last year, said Michael Patch, the center's development manager.

The shelter is approaching its maximum capacity, 63 people, even after opening a new, expanded shelter two years ago near the counseling center and administrative office at 208 E. Apache St.

"Last I know of, we were at 58 or 59," Patch said. "If we ever do hit that 63, we will find a way to hold more."

According to August data released in the New Mexico Interpersonal Violence Data Central Repository, law enforcement responded to 1,248 incidents of domestic violence in San Juan County in 2011. Forty-six percent of the incidents involved a weapon, and 89 percent resulted in victim injury.

"Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to let people know that it's OK to share their stories," he said.


"This is a problem that traditionally wasn't talked about and culturally still hold a stigma."

In addition, cultural assumptions about domestic violence complicate intervention and treatment. A common misconception is that alcohol or drug abuse triggers abusers into domestic violence.

"It's a power and control issue," said Georgette Allen, victim advocate with the Farmington Police Department. "That's going to be there when you take the substance away."

Abuse often takes the form of manipulation, she said. Abusers coerce and manipulate their victims, and fight to regain that control when it is lost.

"The most dangerous time is when the victim leaves the perpetrator," Allen said.

Patch, and other human services workers intend to make a victim's path to healing less arduous by make him or her aware of treatment programs. On Oct. 3 and 4, he will join other agencies at a conference at the Civic Center sponsored by the San Juan County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force.

"One major focus in the conference this year is the law enforcement end," he said. "The idea is that domestic violence doesn't end with abuse. There has to be a way to break the patterns in the future."

The conference is open to professionals in the field, students, law enforcement personnel, counselors, social workers, victim advocates and other human services professionals throughout the Four Corners Region.

A number of other events are planned in addition to the conference. Mayor Tommy Roberts will officially declare October Domestic Violence Awareness Month during the Oct. 2 City Council work session.

On Oct. 12, the annual "Healing Artmosphere," exhibition will be displayed and put up for auction at the Fall Artwalk. Proceeds will benefit the San Juan County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force. The task force also will hold a 7:30 p.m. candlelight vigil at Orchard Park.

"Hopefully we let people know we're here," Patch said. "It's not about hiding, it's about healing. And it's not just us, there are a number of other agencies out there."

For more information on upcoming events, visit the San Juan County Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force Wordpress site.

Those in need of help regarding domestic violence may call a 24-hour hotline. 564-9192.