Denver Shines Light on Domestic Violence

Published on September 30, 2021

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

DENVER – Thursday, September 30, 2021– As the month of October approaches, the Denver Police Department, Denver District Attorney’s Office and Rose Andom Center remind the community that it is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Having a month dedicated to raising awareness on Domestic Violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence, provides an opportunity to share information about warning signs, services and resources for victims, and discuss the dangers of domestic violence (DV).

“We cannot save the lives of those we love if we do not talk about domestic violence. Removing the stigma lets those who are suffering in silence know that they are not alone, and yes, it can save someone’s life,” Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “I lost my sister, Karen, to domestic violence and it is in her memory that every year in October, I plead with anyone who is experiencing abuse to reach out for help. You are loved, you are worthy, and you deserve to be safe.”

It is important to prevent domestic violence, which can be achieved in a dual-action approach. One component is being aware of warning signs, also known as red flags. If someone is displaying some or all the following behaviors, their partner is encouraged to contact an intimate partner violence advocate for options and/or support.

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right, insults, and demeans you
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away, and keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  • Controls who you see, where you go, what you do, or how money is spent
  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Harms you, your loved ones and/or animals

The second approach to stopping domestic violence before it starts or escalates is connecting potential DV perpetrators to resources. In 2019, the Denver Police Department created the Domestic Violence Prevention Program (DVPP) that has dedicated detectives who look at the subject side of the equation by identifying them and providing them with resources and services, such as counselling, parenting classes and more.

One such example occurred this summer when a man was arrested for a DV assault. DVPP detectives contacted the man who was confused about the protection order against him. They explained the legality of the order and offered information for substance abuse and mental health resources, which they learned he suffered. The man, who was very apprehensive to talk with the detectives in the beginning, followed up to inform them that he was seeking help for his mental health issues.

“Eleven people have lost their lives to domestic violence already this year,” said Denver Police Chief Paul M. Pazen. “These deaths are tragic and preventable, and those 11 victims – our neighbors -- should still be with us today. As a police department and community, we must come together to talk about this issue, raise awareness, connect our neighbors and loved ones to potentially life-saving services and stop domestic violence.”

Regarding the escalation of violence in intimate partner relationships, research indicates that abusers do not use alternative weapons to kill when they do not have access to guns. Forty-five percent of domestic violence homicides occur within 90 days of separation and most within the first few days. Thus, it is critical to ensure firearms are removed as soon as a victim seeks help or obtains a protection order. According to the Ontario Domestic Assault Risk Assessment (ODARA), the single most important red flag to predict a lethal response by an abuser is a recent separation.

In Colorado, while an offender has 72 hours to relinquish their firearms after a protective order has been issued, the vast majority refuse to admit that they have firearms. The Denver District Attorney’s Office is one of the only jurisdictions in the country to have a dedicated domestic violence firearms relinquishment investigator who enforces the state law and who is housed with the office’s senior deputy prosecutor from the Rose Andom Center.

“Colorado law bans a person with a domestic violence protection order against them from owning or possessing firearms,” said Assistant District Attorney Maggie Conboy of the Denver District Attorney’s Office. “Domestic violence victims are significantly more likely to be killed if their abuser has access to a gun which is why the most effective intervention is removing firearms from abusers. Under DA McCann’s Domestic Violence Firearms Relinquishment Initiative our investigator and prosecutor protect victims and hold offenders accountable.”

Additionally, there are many resources for those experiencing intimate partner violence. One such resource is the Rose Andom Center. There, those seeking assistance can receive information regarding safety planning, counseling and advocacy, options for filing restraining orders and custody, file for public benefits, and access health care services all while utilizing free childcare in a safe and caring environment.

“Unfortunately, everyone knows someone who is impacted by domestic violence, whether they realize it or not. Fear, stigma and confusion often keep victims silent,” said Margaret Abrams, Director of the Rose Andom Center. “Community awareness is an important part of letting survivors know they are not alone and that help and support is available.”

During 2020, the Rose Andom Center helped approximately 2,000 survivors, providing them with the following assistance:

  • Advocacy: 363 victims explored options available in seeking a path to safety.
  • Civil Legal: 766 victims received support filing protection orders and answering legal questions.
  • Criminal Legal: 38 victims received information about the criminal legal process.
  • Counseling: 235 victims received support addressing the trauma of domestic abuse.
  • Stabilization: 348 victims received assistance becoming financially self-sufficient.
  • Medical: 350 victims and their children received health care services.
  • Child/Youth: 88 children received support to heal from the impact of abuse.

In hopes of continuing to “shine a light” on this important topic, the following buildings will be illuminated in purple (purple symbolizes survival, courage and peace) to signal to victims that they are not alone and to let everyone know that domestic violence happens to all demographics, and talking about it lets those experiencing it know that they have support:

  • Denver City and County Building – Oct. 1-7
  • Empower Field at Mile High Stadium – Oct. 1
  • Ball Arena – Oct. 4
  • McNichols Building (new this year) – Oct. 4-6

Throughout the month of October, DPD and the Denver DA’s Office will share information about the dangers of domestic violence and how victims can receive assistance at facebook.com/DenverPolice and facebook.com/DenverDAsOffice. Additionally, information about resources, domestic violence myths and red flags, and more can be found at denvergov.org/domesticviolence.

In addition to the many community-based, victim-focused partners housed at the Rose Andom Center, the Denver Police Department has a team of dedicated personnel who provide law enforcement services and connections to services, and access to Denver Police Victim Assistance. All services at the Rose Andom Center are available to victims whether or not they choose to report their abuse to the police. To learn about options or to find out more about the Rose Andom Center, please visit www.roseandomcenter.org or call 720-337-4400.