Oct 31, 2023
I want people to know they are not alone in this battle
Hidden behind closed doors and hushed about in dark hallways is the growing epidemic of domestic violence. Nationally, domestic violence is on the rise, and troubling data from the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board reveals Colorado is not immune to this trend. Economic uncertainty, isolation and lack of child care, all exacerbated by the pandemic, have created more dangerous conditions for many in our state.
Throughout October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we are tasked to spread awareness about this epidemic and connect those fleeing abusers with crucial services. The trauma, hardship and pain are very real for me, and a constant reminder of why this work is important.
At just nineteen, I found myself in an abusive home situation that left me in fear for my life. Domestic abuse is difficult to talk about, let alone escape with a young son. It took me years to muster up the courage to leave my abuser, reclaim my life, and breakthrough stigmas to make my voice heard. Throughout those trying years, I navigated a challenging court system, limited survivor resources, financial uncertainty and ultimately homelessness.
Today, I have my life. But we must remind ourselves that for every person who escapes, there are many more who are still living in dangerous and terrifying situations. After all this time, sharing my story still isn’t easy. As we face more domestic violence deaths than ever recorded before in Colorado, I want people to know they are not alone in this battle. I am fighting for you at the Capitol and working to break down the wall of silence surrounding domestic violence.
Since the end of the last legislative session in May, I have been busy collaborating with local leaders, survivors, and advocates to help shape policy that supports domestic violence survivors. One of the persistent issues survivors face is the lack of resources to help them start anew.
That daunting list of tasks can include arranging child care, hunting for a new apartment, seeking health care treatment and attending court dates. As I plan for the 2024 legislative session that begins in January, securing more funding for crime survivors, making survival resources more readily available and cutting red tape with criminal filings are at the top of my priority list.
Our work this session will build on important legislation I helped pass that combats the domestic violence epidemic and protects survivors. In 2021, we passed HB21-1255, which allows for the removal of firearms from someone who has a domestic violence-related protection order issued against them, and HB21-1165, bipartisan legislation to make criminal investigations more seamless for victims of strangulation. To improve the court system experience for survivors, we passed HB23-1222, which establishes standards for domestic violence cases tried in municipalities, strengthens oversight, and increases data sharing.
These pivotal pieces of legislation, along with many others, make our communities safer and protect Coloradans.
While it is humbling to see my own personal history shape statewide policy and to be awarded the Domestic Abuse Survivor Award by the Zero Tolerance for Domestic Abuse non-profit and the Aquamarine Award for being a champion in our fight against domestic violence from Violence Free Colorado, our work is never done. We must continue to spread awareness of domestic violence and work toward a future where we can all live violence-free.
October is the time to be extra aware of the lingering and growing dangers of domestic violence. Identify warning signs of abuse as a partner tries to gain or maintain power and control over you and your household.
If you need help in Colorado, call (800) 799-7233 to be connected to the National Domestic Violence Hotline or visit violencefreecolorado.org. Those living in Jefferson County can call Porch Light, a Family Justice Center, at (720) 853-8850 to seek help.
Majority Leader state Rep. Monica Duran, D-Wheat Ridge, represents House District 23 which includes Lakewood, Lakeside, Applewood, and Mountain View