Chocolate Fantasia benefits local heroes: Advocates for Victims of Assault |

Chocolate Fantasia benefits local heroes: Advocates for Victims of Assault

SUMMIT COUNTY – Barbara (who wants to remain anonymous) was a prisoner in her own home for the last seven years. Whenever she dared to talk to her four children alone, attend their sports activities or even go to the grocery store, she returned home to terror – a raging husband who had torn up her clothes, burnt her journal or threatened to shoot people in their church.

Barbara lived in a cycle of abusive relationships until her early 40s, when she received help from Summit County’s Advocates for Victims of Assault.

She grew up in an alcoholic family, and her father left when she was young.

“I was looking for a dad figure in my life – someone to accept me,” she said.

Her search took her through three abusive marriages. Her first, at age 18, led her to marry an alcoholic. Her second husband also was an alcoholic who hit, slapped and pulled her hair every day and kicked, hit and sexually molested her three children, she said. After nine years, she left him, then married her third husband, who emotionally abused her on a daily basis and physically abused her once by tearing her shirt off. In her last marriage, she had no access to money or transportation, and she couldn’t talk to her children (from a previous marriage) unless her husband was in the room.

“I basically was a prisoner in my own home,” she said. “I couldn’t go to my kids’ sports activities. I was told I was no good and called names, so I was real beaten down emotionally. If I talked to my children at night, he would unscrew the light bulbs and tell me it’s time to go to bed. I went from the same relationship to the next (abusive) one.”

When Barbara met her third husband, she thought he was her knight in shining armor. He showed his jealousy, but she thought his insecurity stemmed from the recent breakup of her previous relationship. After a few months of living together, he was “unbelievably jealous,” she said. Within a year, his controlling influence isolated her from friends and family.

“It always seems to start with jealousy,” she said. “Little by little he gained more control. You’re just sucked into the cycle. It’s so gradual that you just don’t even realize it, and you feel like you have no control and no power, and you’re usually so afraid to do anything. (If I did, when I came home), everything would be just destroyed. My house would look like a tornado went through it.”

Barbara saw the warning signs, but she had a baby with him, and she loved him. She stayed in the marriage for seven years because of her Christian faith.

“I knew in my heart that the things he was doing weren’t right,” she said. “I started trusting God that he would change my husband. All women just hope for the best. We keep thinking we’re going to be able to change it. We think if we keep doing what we’re supposed to do we can change it, and it’s a lie.”

Police cited her husband for domestic violence and child abuse last summer and contacted Advocates to help her. Advocates brought her to a shelter, helped her rent an apartment, counseled her and loaned her money to pay for a housing deposit, food and glasses for her daughter.

“Just knowing there’s help (provides) a feeling of security,” she said. “It’s been tough, and at times, I’ve felt alone, but there’s been my church family, Sarah and Regan (from Advocates), and my faith in God has been the number one thing. I have control now. I can do it. It’s an incredible thing for the kids to see that we can make it without (my ex-husband), and we’re a lot happier. Before, my children stayed in their rooms a lot, and they would beg me to leave him. We had to act a certain way. They were just nervous. There was no peace in the home. Now, I see their personalities blossom. They’re just a lot more open now.

“(Domestic violence) is a cycle that needs to be broken, and it’s up to us to make a stand and say, “No more. It’s got to stop,'” she said. “There’s help out there. There’s hope. (Advocates) have been just incredible. They have been there for me emotionally, through every step of the way. They answered every question I had and any need I had. They even put an alarm on my house that makes me feel safe.”

Barbara maintains contact with Advocates about twice a month.

Advocates began in Summit County in the late 1970s as a grassroots organization to help victims of domestic violence. Since then, it has extended its services to victims of assault and trauma-related issues and offers outreach, prevention, education and 24-hour crisis intervention.

Advocates responded to 3,005 calls last year and placed 58 women, 42 children and five men in shelters. It answered 372 crisis calls and 809 requests for advocacy or phone counseling, said Sarah Vaine, assistant director. It employs two full-time staff members, two part-time workers and 52 volunteers.

“Most of the crisis calls and advocacy counseling calls are locals, but we do get visitors who stay in our shelter from Park or Eagle counties who are concerned about staying in their county because it’s such a small county,” Vaine said. “(People) can get support and advocacy in a nonjudgmental setting, and we can provide emergency housing. It’s a safe refuge for people in whatever situation they’re in.”

For more information, or to volunteer, call (970) 668-3906.


Indicators of involvement with an abusive partner:

1. Pushes for quick involvement

2. Excessively jealous

3. Controlling

4. Unrealistic expectations

5. Attempts to isolate partner from others

6. Blames others for

problems or mistakes

7. Holds others

responsible for his or her feelings

8. Hypersensitive

9. Cruel toward animals

10. Uses force during sex

11. Verbally abusive

12. Rigid sex role


13. Sudden mood swings

14. Violence in past


15. Threatens to use


If you notice any of these behaviors in your

relationship and would like help, call Advocates at (970) 668-3906.


Chocolate Fantasia tonight

FRISCO – Tonight’s your chance to indulge in chocolate – without the guilt.

The Advocates for Victims of Assault is hosting its 16th annual Chocolate Fantasia, its biggest fund raiser. Advocates helps victims of violence and trauma by providing emergency housing, a crisis line, education, prevention and direct victim services.

The evening features chocolate delights created by 10 to 20 professional chefs and 20 to 30 amateur bakers and children. It also offers about 20 different wines to taste, donated by Midwest Beverage, Antler’s Liquor and Bansi.

A committee of professional chefs and local personalities will award the famous Golden Pig award in the amateur, child, resort and professional categories. In addition, chocolate devotees will bestow the People’s Choice Golden Pig award to the most decadent dessert.

The Summit High School Jazz Band will perform a full range of dance music, beginning at 6:30 p.m., and Free Spirit Belly Dancers will perform throughout the evening.

As if chocolate, wine and dancing weren’t enough, Chocolate Fantasia offers a carnival of silent auction items. About 200 businesses have donated ski passes, gift certificates, jewelry, weekend packages, a snowboard, wine, housewares and services ranging from massages to excavation.

Full-event tickets, including wine tasting (for adults) are $25, and chocolate indulgence tickets (without wine) are $20. Tickets for children younger than 12 are $5. They may be purchased at the door or at the City Markets in Dillon and Breckenridge and at Safeway in Frisco.

People can attend the event free by bringing a chocolate dessert cut into 50 bite-size portions. One entry admits an entire family. Desserts must be submitted between 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. today at the Holiday Inn in Frisco. For more information, call (970) 668-3906.

Chocolate Fantasia begins at 6:30 p.m. tonight at the Holiday Inn in Frisco.

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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