Violence Prevention Coalition of Southwest Colorado
The Violence Prevention Coalition of Southwest Colorado (VPC) works to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in the rural southwest 6th Judicial District of Colorado. VPC does this work through two primary strategies:
1. Strengthening criminal justice system and advocate response to sexual assault and domestic violence crimes.
2. Mobilizing communities who have been targeted for violence because of their marginalization in society, including people with disabilities, children and their parents, and youth, elders and families living on Native Lands.
Strengthening the criminal justice system response
VPC was organized in 1987 as a coalition of victim advocates, law enforcement agencies, district attorneys, probation, and treatment providers. As more attention was brought to sexual assault and domestic violence in the late 1970s, the criminal justice system struggled to address these crimes adequately. Unlike other crimes, there were often no witnesses, and the victims of these crimes often had some prior relationship with the perpetrator which made prosecuting the crime emotionally difficult. The criminal justice system sought to strengthen its response to these crimes to be effective in arresting and prosecuting the perpetrators. VPC brought together agencies & individuals in Southwest Colorado to develop joint policy, host trainings, track outcomes, and educate the public so that victims of domestic and sexual violence could find justice in the criminal justice system.
Mobilizing Communities Targeted for Violence
In more recent years, VPC has seen that strengthening criminal justice system response is only one arm of prevention work. Many acts of violence are not reported because the perpetrator is a caregiver to the victim, or because the perpetrator and victim are members of a group (such as Native Americans and undocumented immmigrants) who are distrustful of the criminal justice system and concerned about the over-incarceration of their communities. VPC began organizing the See It Stop It (SISI) projects in 2008 to prevent violence that is seldom reported. Using popular education methods and a social justice model, SISI engages specific communities or cultural groups to name the violence in their lives and act to change it. Popular Education is designed to raise the consciousness of its participants about how an individual's personal experiences are connected to larger societal problems. Participants are empowered to act to effect change on the problems that affect them. A Social Justice model understands that communities most affected by a problem are best suited to create and implement solutions to the problem - their work is based on the idea of "nothing about us without us." The SISI Projects are empowering members to take collective action in their communities to end violence.