State says services for domestic violence survivors are still available during COVID-19 outbreak

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The Colorado Department of Human Services says domestic abuse survivors are allowed to leave their residence during the current stay-at-home order or upcoming safer-at-home policy, despite what an abuser may say behind closed doors.

Michelle Barnes, executive director of the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS), said the department’s top priority is the safety of all Coloradans.

“Everyone who needs to leave their home to stay safe can and should do so,” she said. “That may mean you leave to make a phone call or find temporary housing. 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 Colorado Department of Human Services said abusers typically use isolation as a tool to exercise power over another person and may manipulate physical distancing practices to make the person fear contracting the virus or violating the order, therefore keeping them inside.

Essential services that can help somebody in that position — such as crisis intervention, advocacy, financial assistance and access to emergency shelters — are available now, Barnes said. Local organizations may also be able a person relocate and cover the costs associated with that.

Click here for a list of domestic violence survivor services in Colorado, organized by county.

Brooke Ely-Milen, director of the CDHS Domestic Violence Program, said these programs are working to support survivors as the state continues to respond to COVID-19.

“We anticipate additional funds from the federal CARES Act to allocate to organizations in need,” she said. “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.”

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can connect callers to local domestic violence service providers that offer free and confidential help. The hotline is open 24/7 and can be reached by calling 800-799-7233. Survivors who cannot call can text “love is” to 22522 or visit www.TheHotline.org to chat online. In an emergency, call 911.