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By Shawn Chitnis

DENVER (CBS4)– A new statewide campaign launched Friday called “Stand Up Colorado” takes on domestic violence by focusing on survivors, pushing the blame back toward the people responsible and encouraging others to get involved so these types of crimes can be prevented.

“It started off with tone of voice,” said Nanette Chezum, a survivor of relationship violence. “A very commanding tone of voice, it is also started off with diminishing my thoughts and my opinions on things.”

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(credit: Stand Up Colorado)

Chezum and other survivors are enthusiastic about this latest attempt to take on an ongoing issue. Organizers say it will last longer and target communities based on culture and language in order to better connect with them. It will also encourage everyone to speak up about this topic.

“It is our problem. Relationship violence is not okay. Ever,” a variety of speakers say in a new television commercial that will start running across the state. “But it is okay to ask for help.”

The public service announcement features state leaders and community members with a number anyone can call for assistance, 855-9-StandUp.

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(credit: Stand Up Colorado)

“They standup to support our Colorado sports teams and now they’re standing up to end relationship violence,” says an announcer in another commercial.

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The campaign has recruited the mascots of every major sports team in town to help promote their message.

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(credit: Stand Up Colorado)

“It happens to people of every age, race, gender, sexual orientation, income level, and occupation,” said Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman.

Coffman shared some surprising statistics about the issue in this state. Last year 48 people in Colorado because of relationship violence. She also said one in seven people will experience it in their lifetime.

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(credit: CBS)

“We have to talk openly about domestic violence and sex assault, we must bring the issue out into the light in order for things to change,” Coffman added.

Coffman said one of the most essential tenants of this campaign is making sure survivors know they are not responsible for changing their behavior instead of the perpetrators. She also talked about educating the public on warning signs and encouraging them to act so they are not passive bystanders.

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(credit: CBS)

“Relationship violence is a pattern of behavior used to control and coherence and intimate partner,” said Denver’s City Attorney Kristin Bronson.

Bronson explained that the campaign launching in Colorado was inspired in part by similar work in New Zealand emphasizing, “It’s Not OK” like the new “Stand Up Colorado” effort. She also pointed out that acts of relationship violence are not always criminal because they can be economic or emotional forms of abuse. Manipulation by one partner over the other with their children, including isolating someone from their kids is another example.

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(credit: Stand Up Colorado)

“I actually lost custody of my children, to my abuser,” said Carolyn MacCloud, another survivor. “I have not seen my children since then, going on six years.”

In 2014, there were reports on relationship violence filed by 16,700 people in Colorado, according to the campaign. Only 40 percent of all cases are ever reported, leaders with the campaign explained.

“Domestic violence is something that happens behind closed doors, it happens in darkness, it happens when you least expect it,” said MacCloud. “Bring it out of the dark to bring an end to it.”

Survivors say it is important for people outside of toxic relationships to help family and friends or even neighbors in their community. They say to trust your intuition and don’t ignore red flags.

“Relationship violence does not discriminate,” said Chezum. “No one is immune, it doesn’t matter if you have a master’s degree or a high school diploma, it affects everyone.”

LINK: Stand Up Colorado

Shawn Chitnis reports for CBS4 News at 10 on weekends and CBS4 News at 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. throughout the week. Email him story ideas at smchitnis@cbs.com and connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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