If you are a victim of any type of domestic violence, including emotional abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help now: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
After March 25th, 2020, when it was required to “stay at home” in Colorado as part of the COVID-19 response, the number of domestic violence and emotional abuse cases have increased. It was already a very serious and all too common problem in Colorado and across the nation.
“Domestic Violence” can include many types of negative behaviors as well as different types of abuse. It can include physical abuse, psychological abuse and / or aggression, emotional abuse, stalking or sexual violence with the purpose of gaining power and control over another person, often a former or current intimate partner.
The increase in domestic violence cases in Colorado and across the nation is not unexpected as statistics show that domestic violence cases have spiked in other Countries since the pandemic, including Spain, France, Brazil, Italy and Germany. Furthermore, there have been reports of a 12-22% increase in domestic violence calls in Boston, LA and Dallas. In Colorado, Gateway Domestic Violence Services saw an increase in calls from March 19-25, 2020 compared to the previous week. Crossroads Safehouse calls to their 24/7 crisis line has doubled since mid April, according to Executive Director Lisa Poppaw. In addition, their lethality cases — cases where there was an attempt on a victim’s life or their life is in jeopardy — jump from five or six annually to 18 since the stay at home order mandate.
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR PROTECTING YOURSELF AND OTHERS AND REMAINING “SAFE AT HOME”
Although shelters have scaled back and are operating at a decreased capacity, they are still in operation for domestic violence victims. Courts are also operating on a limited basis, and the Colorado Chief Justice has issued orders specifically stating that Courts may not suspend protection order hearings. Although police departments are limiting police officers responding to low-level offenses, domestic Violence cases are NOT considered low-level and police departments are obligated to respond under the stay-at-home order.
If you are in danger and can safely call the police, you need to describe the danger that you are in and any details including if there has been physical or sexual abuse along with any fears of escalating violence.
If there is a history of abuse, then you should make a domestic violence safety plan. The plan should include how you can stay safe while in the relationship as well as how to safely remove yourself from the situation.
Some steps you can take to help ensure your safety include:
Tell a friend, neighbor or co-worker about the abuse: If possible, tell them face-to-face in order to avoid anything that can be traced. This person should be someone you speak to often in order to avoid suspicion. Create a safe phrase with this person that would allow you to contact them innocuously.
Protecting all your technological devices including mobile, tablet, and computer: Password protect all your devices and avoid using biotechnology like fingerprint or face recognition to unlock your device; Always search for information using the browser’s incognito mode; Erase your browsing history after performing a search. Have multiple windows open in order to quickly switch to the alternate ‘safe’ window should the abuser enter the room while you are performing a search; Do not sync your device information to the cloud or between devices; Change the names of people or organizations that you are contacting; Check your device for any unknown applications which could be key logging software.
Make a safe area in your house: When violence is escalating, go to a room that can be locked and has no weapons or potential weapons in it. Try to avoid running to your children because it may result in your abuser turning their abuse on them. If the violence is unavoidable, curl your body up into a ball and protect your head.
Find a reason to leave the house: Now that the stay at home order has been lifted and more and more businesses are re-opening, it could be easier to get out of the house. Walk the dog, take the kids to the doctor, go for a run, go grocery shopping. Once you leave the house, call the National Domestic Violence hotline or a friend for help.
Know what to do in an emergency situation: Teach your children how to dial 9-1-1 and how to go to a neighbor to ask for assistance. Your car should be easily accessible and in a location that would allow you to leave quickly. Take your children and leave everything else behind.
Make sure you keep up to date on the protection order policies with COVID-19 in your county. WITH A TEMPORARY CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER, YOU CAN REQUEST THAT YOUR ABUSER IS EXCLUDED FROM WHERE YOU ARE LIVING.
Feel free to contact Goodman and Wallace for assistance with your legal matters regarding your domestic violence case.