As the nation struggles with COVID-19, there has been increasing pressure on families. People are stuck spending almost all of their time with family members. Economic distress is rampant. If domestic violence is already present in the relationship, victims may find few opportunities for respite. They may have little chance to call for help.
It appears that domestic violence has increased during the lockdown period. Many organizations and government agencies report substantial rises in hotline calls. At the same time, reports to police have dropped. This is in part because many people are no longer in a position to report to the police. In part, it may be because third-party reporters like teachers and mental health professionals have less access to victims and their children, so they aren’t reporting suspicions of abuse as often.
In a typical year, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, about 1.3 million women and 835,000 men suffer from physical violence by a partner. Children who witness this violence are not only ancillary victims, but they are also more at risk of violence themselves than other kids.
The stakes are high. The opportunities for easy release from an abusive relationship are low.cep
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
There is a chance to get help. For many people, a restraining order is a good idea. Although a court order won’t stop every abuser, it can have a profound impact on many. It can:
- Remove your abuser from the family home
- Give you temporary care and control of your children
- Order the abuser to stay away from your work and home
- Order the abuser not to call
- Deny the abuser parenting time if they have harmed the children
- Provide for safety during child pick-up and drop-off
Violation of a restraining order is a criminal offense, and your abuser could go to jail. Restraining orders are enforceable throughout the state and nationwide.
In Colorado, getting a restraining order takes two steps. First, you request a temporary restraining order in person at your county courthouse. It is usually possible to get a hearing with a judge the same day you apply. Then, if the judge issues a temporary protection order, the matter is set for a hearing within 2 weeks. The respondent is given a chance to defend him- or herself. If the judge finds it more likely than not that domestic violence or threats have occurred, and that they will continue to occur without a permanent restraining order, he or she will issue a permanent restraining order.
You will need to demonstrate that your spouse or romantic partner has threatened or committed violence against you, and that you are in imminent danger of further threats of abuse.
You do not need an attorney to file for a restraining order, but you are allowed to have one. It is in your best interest to have an attorney make your case to the judge.