Domestic Violence: The Other Terrorism May - 2002

Denver Women's Commission
Domestic Violence: The Other Terrorism May - 2002

May 1, 2002
Prepared by Chaer Robert

Domestic Violence: The Other Terrorism How are we doing on our other war on terrorism? Those on the frontline are overwhelmed. The 60 member programs of the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence provided services to almost 40,000 battered women and their children in 2001. In Colorado, there were 50 domestic violence related deaths in 2001.

Over the past year the number turned away from Colorado safehouses has grown from about 5000 to 9400 per year. The economic downturn may have contributed. With the lack of affordable housing, the length of stays has increased slightly, reducing the number than are served. Colorado's population has grown.

On the legislative front, these bills directly affect victims of domestic violence:

Rep. Jennifer Veiga (D) and Senator Norma Anderson (R) sponsored HB 1034. Among the provisions of the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is the requirement that victims of domestic violence and sexual assault not be charged for restraining orders. Colorado was charging for civil restraining orders. That violated the federal law and put Colorado's VAWA funding at risk. With the passage of this bill, victims will no longer have to pay filing fees or service of a restraining order, which can save them about $50.

Through HB 1051 by Rep. Andrew Romanoff (D) and Sen. Lewis Entz (R), victims of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault gained new rights. Those victims who work for employers of 50 or more, who have one year or more of seniority, have the right to up to 3 days of unpaid leave. This leave can be used for seeking legal, medical, or psychological help, or for improving their safety. Businesses also gained the right to get a restraining order to protect their workplace. The bill passed the House with the barest 33 to 32 vote margin. Representatives opposing generally cited their reluctance to add a new regulation on businesses.

HB 1009 by Rep. Debbie Stafford (R) and Senator Ken Gordon (D) addresses the modification of permanent restraining orders. It prohibits a person who is the subject of such an order from modifying it for four years. If that person has a felony conviction or a subsequent misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, the order can never be modified.

Those supporting the relaxation of restrictions on concealed handguns-- HB 1410 by Rep. Lois Tochtrop (D) and Sen Ken Chlouber (R) -- usually picture themselves as the ones carrying guns. But for those who work with battered women, the more guns, the greater the danger. In 1998, for every one woman who used a handgun to kill an intimate partner in self-defense, 83 women were murdered by an intimate partner with a handgun. From 1976 - 1999, about 1/3 of female murder victims and 4% of male murder victims, were killed by an intimate partner.

In the name of the war on terrorism, Rep. Don Lee (R) and Sen. Ken Arnold (R) introduced HB 1448, which would deputize local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws. One impact of such a measure would be the chilling effect on immigrant communities contacting the police when they are victims or witness. Such contact could result in their, or a family member's, deportation. Batterers living with immigrant women often hold their immigration status hostage to exert control. Frequently, the batterer is a victim's immigration sponsor; she is dependent on him to gain or maintain legal residency. While federal law makes exceptions for battered women, she may not know this.

For additional information, contact Jennifer Corrigan of the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence jcorrigan@ccadv.org or 303-861-9632. To check the status of any bill, or to read the full text, visit the State Legislature's website at www.state.co.us/gov_dir/stateleg.html

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