Domestic violence homicides are on the rise in many cities around the country, according to preliminary data from local law enforcement. Experts attribute much of the alarming increase to the social and economic pressures of the coronavirus pandemic. The Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board Report shows at least 70 people died in Colorado in 2019 as a result of domestic violence. While 2020 national data on domestic violence murders will not be released until well into 2021, violent crime and homicides in Colorado have increased. Domestic violence hotlines nationwide have reported huge surges in the number of calls reporting both physical and psychological abuse.
The stay at home orders have had an unintended and frightening consequence of a marked increase in domestic violence. Many people find themselves cut off from family, friends, school and work. Being isolated in homes provides abusers with the perfect opportunity to exert power and control.
So what can you do if you find yourself in a domestic violence situation?
Courts are addressing emergency motions and petitions for personal protection orders.
A Protection Order means any Order that prohibits the Restrained Person from contacting, harassing, injuring, intimidating, molesting, threatening, touching, stalking, sexually assaulting or abusing any Protected Person, or from entering or remaining on premises, or from coming within a specified distance of a Protected Person or premises, or from taking, transferring, concealing, harming, disposing of, or threatening harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by a Protected Person, or any other provision to protect the Protected Person from imminent danger to life or health.
If you are thinking about talking to an attorney regarding a personal protection order remember that timing is important. Your attorney will need time to gather information, draft the petition, file it with the court and have the other party personally served. This takes time. Make sure you have a safety plan in place while you are waiting for the judge to issue an order. You can call 211 for local resources, including shelters and hotlines, or have an online chat at www.m211.org. Both provide free and confidential assistance 24 hours a day. If you are in immediate danger call 911.
On November 3, 2020 Colorado voters passed Proposition 118, a ballot initiative establishing a paid family and medical leave program. The new law, known as the "Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act", provides 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave funded through a payroll tax paid by employers and employees in a 50/50 split. The act is codified at C.R.S. 220.127.116.111-424. The first premiums for employers and employees will be due on January 1, 2023, and leave under the anti will be available starting January 1, 2024.
To receive coverage under the act an individual must meet certain criteria. He or she earned at least $2,500.00 in wages subject to premiums during the individuals "base period" as defined by the act. The individual must also submit some form of yet to be determined documentation. The documentation would tend to show that individual meets the following criteria:
The individual requires "safe leave," meaning leave needed "because the covered individual or the covered individual's family member is the victim of domestic violence, the victim of stalking, or the victim of sexual assault or abuse."
The individual must be using the leave from work to (1) seek a civil protection order; (2) obtain medical care or mental health counseling for the individual or family member "resulting from he act of domestic violence, stalking, sexual assault or abuse"; (3) "mak[e] his or her home secure from the perpetrator"; or (4) "seek legal assistance to address issues arising from he act of domestic violence, stalking or sexual abuse."
A covered individual can receive up to 12 weeks of paid family or medical leave under the act. Individuals may receive 90% of their average weekly wages or the portion of wages that are less than or equal to 50% of the state average weekly wage and 50% of the portion of their wages that exceeded 50% of the state average weekly wage. The maximum benefit is capped at $1,100 per week for 2024.
Most domestic violence cases do not begin with physical violence or serious threats, Rather, many cases start with what appears to be a healthy relationship, and over time, dangerous behavior develops, with offhand comments and arguments turning into physical violence, manipulation and gaslighting over a period of time. COVID-19 has exacerbated already tense situations. If you believe you are in a relationship involving domestic violence we encourage you to call us today. We can help.