Grand County State Senator Randy Baumgardner. Senator Al Franken. Matt Lauer. Judge Roy Moore. Don Trump. Kevin Spacey. Louis CK. Harvey Weinstein.

Q: What do these guys have in common?
A: They’ve all been accused of some form of sexual harassment or assault. Victims have come out of the dark and shed light on their bad behavior.

Some of these alleged monsters have admitted misdeeds but some have made denials and called their accusers liars, despite overwhelming evidence and credible accounts. This kind of response discourages victims and adds insult to injury.

Lower profile reminders are all over Facebook. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October women who have been victims of harassment or worse posted a simple, “Me too,” letting the world know that they too have been abused or harassed. The campaign shed light on an issue that’s not always up front. The members of the “Me too” club are all over the place.

This year I trained to be an advocate with the Advocate Safehouse Project in Glenwood Springs and I occasionally answer the 24-hour help line. I was worried that women would not want to talk to a guy on the help line but have discovered just the opposite. The women I’ve talked to are mostly looking for a sane person who will listen to their words with respect and empathy. It’s heartbreaking.

My first call was from a woman whose boyfriend had just hit her and then dropped her off in a sleazy part of a nearby city. She and her three kids were cornered in a horrible hotel with drug deals, prostitution and other crimes happening right outside the door. She was brave and the kids were under control. She said she wanted out but it often takes several incidents like this before a woman in that situation takes the kids and runs for it.

If a victim calls police and files a restraining order the perpetrator gets locked up for 72 hours for starters. That’s a big step for a victim. Calling an advocate first can help a victim make a plan without involving police.

At the recent Winter Park Business Expo I met some of the women behind Grand County Advocates. This local non-profit offers safe harbor, advocacy, resources and options for locals who are being controlled, abused or assaulted.

To talk to someone who will listen and is familiar with the law and your options, call the 24-hour help line number at Grand County Advocates at (970) 725-3412. Don’t put up with it.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

Abuse often starts off almost innocently but can build quickly. For example, “That was stupid,” can easily become, “You are stupid.”

It can start with an insult, then more insults, then isolation and control, intimidation and threats and worse. Abuse often nudges outward, growing slow but sure as the abuser pushes the boundaries of what he can get away with.

Victims of abuse are often women and sometimes kids. According to the National Institute of Justice, an intimate partner commits almost half of all murders in Colorado. Most victims are women. Nationally, one in four women will experience abuse in their lifetime. I have heard stories of horrific passive aggressive behavior that implied imminent violence. Who could live under that?

Teen dating abuse is a big problem. The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that girls and young women experience nearly triple the national average rate of intimate partner violence, and only 33 percent of incidents are reported. One quarter of high school girls have been victims of sexual abuse or violence. Think about the peer pressure to be cool, popular and attractive and couple that with boys who learn the tactics of abuse, isolation, coercion and more.

We owe it to our kids to make sure that abuse is not OK or normal, and that it’s not love, not cool and not acceptable.

Abusers have resources, too. Some guys have not had proper sensitivity training, but it’s never too late to start. They can find empathy for someone looking to change and help doing it through  advocate programs.

Last weekend I was on call. The phone rang before 7:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. People don’t call the helpline on a Saturday morning because things are going great. I like being a volunteer but I hate it when the phone rings. Advocates can help but ultimately the victim must decide their course of action.

Making the call is a very good first step.

Steve Skinner is reminded that anger can destroy perfectly good people. Reach him at