April 22, 2020 (DENVER) — As Gov. Jared Polis makes plans to replace stay-at-home with safer-at-home, survivors of domestic violence can leave their homes in order to call, text or chat for support, or to find temporary safe housing.
“The health and safety of Coloradans is our top priority, and everyone who needs to leave their home to stay safe can and should do so. That may mean you leave to make a phone call or find temporary housing,” says Michelle Barnes, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services. “We know that people who perpetrate violence in their relationship may use misinformation and lies to control their partners and create fear. It is acceptable to leave your home — and to take any dependents like children or parents with you — in order to ask for help or escape violence.”
The National Domestic Violence Hotline — 800-799-7233 — can connect people to their local, free and confidential domestic violence service provider. Support is available 24/7 in more than 200 languages. Survivors of domestic violence who cannot make a phone call can text loveis (capitalization does not matter) to 22522 or visit thehotline.org to chat with an advocate. During an emergency situation, survivors should call 911.
“Throughout the COVID19 response, essential services are available,” Barnes says. “That includes crisis intervention, advocacy, financial assistance and emergency shelter. Domestic violence service providers are using physical distancing practices to reduce the spread of coronavirus.”
Isolation is a primary tool used by abusers to exercise power and control over a survivor. Unfortunately, abusers may manipulate physical distancing public health practices to prevent the survivor from seeking help based on fear of the abuser and now the fear of contracting the virus or violating a law. Financial insecurity may increase a survivor’s dependence on an abusive partner, making it challenging to maintain safety and independence. Local community-based organizations may be able to provide financial assistance, including help with rent and utilities, relocation costs, food, cleaning supplies, transportation, gas and car repairs.
Anyone concerned about the safety of a friend, family member or neighbor, should offer support privately and let them know that community-based domestic violence organizations continue to operate. Share the contact information for the domestic violence hotline, text or chat with someone you are concerned about, and reach out for support for yourself. Friends and family often find it beneficial to talk with an advocate.
“Community organizations are working harder than ever to support survivors,” says Brooke Ely-Milen, director of the CDHS Domestic Violence Program. “We anticipate additional funds from the federal CARES Act to allocate to organizations in need. Coloradans can also help by calling their local service provider to donate much-needed personal care supplies, vouchers for hotel stays or personal protective equipment.”
A list of local domestic violence service organizations is available here.
The Colorado Department of Human Services Domestic Violence Program’s mission is to partner with communities in the prevention of domestic violence while promoting the safety and well-being of survivors through good stewardship of funding resources. The Domestic Violence Program administers approximately $3 million in annual state and federal funding to ensure communities across Colorado have the support they need to intervene, prevent and respond to domestic violence.
Deputy Director of Communications