A RESOURCE HANDBOOK FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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1 A RESOURCE HANDBOOK FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Compiled by the Victim Assistance Unit of the Denver Police Department

2 A RESOURCE HANDBOOK FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TABLE OF CONTENTS FORWARD CHAPTER 1: DYNAMICS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Power and Control... 3 The Cycle of Violence... 4 CHAPTER 2: DENVER S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE POLICY Criminal Actions... 5 Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Civil Actions CHAPTER 3: SPECIAL ISSUES Medical Care Children Pregnancy At-Risk Adults Pets Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Stalking Immigration CHAPTER 4: SAFETY PLANNING CHAPTER 5: RESOURCES FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHAPTER 6: SUGGESTED READINGS This project was supported by Grant No WE-BX-0032 awarded by the Violence Against Women Office, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. Points of view in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

3 FORWARD HANDBOOK PURPOSE Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. Abuse occurs in all age groups, social or economic classes, races, religions, and/or educational levels. If you have been assaulted or threatened or if your property has been destroyed by a partner or former partner what can you do? Where can you go for help? Who in the community can help? These are several questions asked by victims of domestic violence. This handbook is intended to provide some answers to these and related questions by providing information on various alternatives and options available to you. In this handbook you will see several different words used for the person who is the abuser. These words include suspect, batterer, abuser, perpetrator, accused or defendant. USE THIS HANDBOOK AS A GUIDE ONLY! WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? Domestic violence (Colorado Revised Statute, ) is defined as an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence also includes any other crime against a person or against property or any municipal ordinance violation against a person or against property, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence includes physical abuse such as hitting, pushing, grabbing, biting, kicking, choking or hair pulling. Ordinary objects or weapons may be used as a threat or means of attack. Domestic violence also can include sexual abuse (unwanted sex). IDENTIFIERS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE If you are afraid to see your friends or family or to do things you like to do because your partner gets angry, you are abused. If you feel worse about yourself now that you are in this relationship, you are psychologically abused. Psychological abuse includes verbal abuse, put-downs, manipulation, or being isolated from friends and family. If you have ever been physically forced to do something against your will, you have been abused. If you have been slapped, punched, kicked, grabbed, shoved, pushed, choked, scratched, pulled, hit with some object, shot or stabbed you have been physically abused. If you have been forced to have sex or do something sexual that you didn t want to do, you have been sexually abused. 1

4 YOU ARE NOT ALONE Did you know Dr. Murray Strauss, a major researcher in the field of domestic violence, has stated, The family is the most violent institution in America, except for the Armed Services in time of war. Former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop declared that because domestic violence reached such epidemic proportions, it is the nation s number two health problem. One out of two marriages has at least one episode of domestic violence (Behind Closed Doors: Violence in the Family). The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that close to 700,000 incidents of domestic violence are documented every year. Thousands more go unreported. It is estimated that between 3.3 million and 10 million children in the United States are at risk of witnessing abuse each year. (Domestic Violence Resources) Studies have shown that 40% of assaults on women by their male partners begin during the first pregnancy; pregnant women are at twice the risk of battery. (Martins, et al., 1992) 81% of stalking victims who were stalked by an intimate partner reported that they had also been physically assaulted by that partner. Most female victims are stalked by some type of intimate partner: 38% of women are stalked by current or former husbands. 10% of women are stalked by current or former cohabiting partners. 14% of women are stalked by current or former dates or boyfriends. 31% were also sexually assaulted by that partner. 88% of pets living in households with Domestic Violence are either abused or killed. FBI data show that in the past quarter century; nearly 57,000 individuals have been killed in incidents of family violence. In the City and County of Denver during 2004: 2878 arrests for municipal code violations involving domestic violence were made by the Denver Police Department; 1727 incident reports for state charges involving domestic violence were investigated by the Denver Police Department and outreach was provided by the Victim Assistance Unit; 9 percent (8) of the 94 homicides were identified as domestic violence related; and Over 14,000 domestic violence crisis calls were handled by Safehouse Denver. YOU DON T DESERVE TO BE ABUSED. NO ONE DOES! 2

5 CHAPTER 1 DYNAMICS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE POWER AND CONTROL Power and control are two major factors in a battering relationship. The victim often experiences: PHYSICAL ABUSE The batterer uses physical force to intimidate the victim. This includes: pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, choking, pulling hair, punching, kicking, grabbing, using a weapon, beating, throwing her down, twisting arms, tripping and biting. EMOTIONAL ABUSE The batterer puts the victim down, makes her feel bad about herself, calls her names, and/or makes her think she s crazy. THREATS The batterer does something to hurt her emotionally, threatens to take the children, reports her to welfare, or threatens suicide. INTIMIDATION The batterer puts her in fear by using looks, actions, or gestures, or by shouting, smashing things, or destroying her property. ECONOMIC ABUSE The batterer keeps her from getting or keeping a job, makes her ask for money, gives her an allowance or takes her money. SEXUAL ABUSE The batterer makes her do sexual things against her will or physically attacks the sexual parts of her body. ISOLATION The batterer controls whom the victim sees or talks to and where she goes. THE BATTERER OFTEN: USES THE CHILDREN The batterer makes her feel guilty about the children, uses the children to give messages and/or uses visitation as a way to harass her. USES MALE PRIVILEGE The batterer treats her like a servant, makes all the big decisions or acts like the master of the castle. [Note: Although the pronoun she has been used in order to simplify the text, the same stages of violence can occur in a relationship where the male is the victim.] [Adapted from the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, Duluth, MN.] 3

6 THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE Abuse is not constant, nor does it happen at totally random times. Understanding this cycle, which increases in frequency and severity as it happens again and again, is very important if we are to learn how to stop or prevent battering incidents. While this cycle of violence is rather typical, not all battering relationships may follow this pattern exactly. PHASE I: TENSION BUILDING STAGE The batterer is frustrated and becomes increasingly tense, jealous and verbally abusive. Tension mounts between the couple. The victim denies fear, anger and history of violence. The victim may accept the blame for any problems and may attempt to keep the peace. PHASE II: THE ACUTE BATTERING (VIOLENT) STAGE The tension becomes unbearable. The violence is most severe at this time. Contact is often made with police, medical personnel and/or advocates by the victim or batterer. At this point, the victim s main concern is to survive the abuse. Escape feels impossible. The victim often stays calm, hoping to wait out the storm. The victim may side with the batterer and not cooperate with the person there to help. PHASE III: HEARTS AND FLOWERS STAGE The batterer is sorry and often very loving and kind. The batterer promises to change and promises it won t happen again. The batterer is afraid of being left, and attempts to make the victim feel guilty about breaking up the family and home. The victim loves the batterer and desperately wants to believe the abuse will stop. Things appear to be better for a while. The hearts and flowers stage grows shorter and shorter until it eventually ceases, leaving Phases I and II to repeat over and over. [Modification of Dr. Lenore Walker s Cycle of Violence Theory.] 4

7 CHAPTER 2 DENVER S DOMESTIC VIOLENCE POLICY CRIMINAL ACTIONS Since 1984 the City and County of Denver has regarded domestic violence as criminal conduct. If there is probable cause, the abusers are usually arrested and must see a judge before being released on bail. Also, they may be served a protection order by the Court as a condition of bond. In 1996 the Denver Police Department (DPD) created a specialized Domestic Violence Investigations Unit (DVIU) ( ). The DVIU investigates incidents of domestic violence which may rise to the level of state charges and are documented on an incident report. Examples of these incidents include: serious or aggravated assaults, menacing with a deadly weapon, kidnapping, protection order violations, sexual assault, harassment, stalking and certain property crimes. A copy of each incident report is received by the Victim Assistance Unit/DPD ( ). Telephone and letter outreach are then attempted with the victim. Incident Reports are assigned to a detective for follow-up investigation. The detective presents information to the Denver District Attorney s Office for a filing decision. The District Attorney s office makes the decision about what charges to file. Should the Denver District Attorney s Office decline to file state charges, the detective may present this information to the Denver City Attorney s Office for a decision about filing municipal order violations. The victim s reluctance or unwillingness to pursue charges is not a factor in these filing decisions. Denver has a no drop policy, that is, a case will not be dismissed because the victim requests that the charges be dropped. The no drop policy is in place to protect the safety of the victim and child(ren) and to hold the abuser accountable. While it may seem as if the victim is being punished, the policy is in place to prevent repeated violence. Both the District Attorney s Office and the City Attorney s Office have special units to prosecute domestic violence cases. Only the prosecutor can decide whether a case will go forward or be dismissed. Both the District Attorney s Office and the City Attorney s Office have Victim Advocates to assist the victim through the legal process with court appearances, support, options, and referrals. The victim(s) and witness(es) may receive a subpoena to appear in court. Subpoenas are official court orders and failure to honor a subpoena can result in arrest. Sentences in domestic violence cases may include any of the following: a fine, probation, jail or prison time, domestic violence counseling and/or alcohol/drug treatment. It is solely up to the judge. The judge considers many things in deciding on a sentence, including type of crime, facts about the crime, the abuser s prior criminal history, as well as both the victim s statements and the abuser s statements. JUVENILE COURT ACTIONS All domestic violence cases involving juvenile perpetrators (individuals under the age of eighteen) are written on police incident reports. When the juvenile is arrested, s/he is taken to the Juvenile Intake Bureau of the Denver Police Department. A screening process determines where the juvenile is taken. A detention hearing will be held within 48 hours if the juvenile is detained and not sent home. 5

8 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: What will the District or City Attorney s Office tell you about the case? A: A Victim Advocate will attempt to contact you. This is some of the information you will be given. You will be provided information about what crimes the suspect has been charged with (these charges may be different than the original charges). You will be kept informed of the court dates. You will be told whether or not you need to appear in court. You will be asked for input on the case and given the opportunity to provide any additional information you would like to share. The final decision about resolving the case is up to the District Attorney or City Attorney, however, your opinion about the best outcome is important. The Victim Advocate will also discuss any safety concerns you have and assist with referrals to other agencies that may be able to help with safety planning, legal issues, housing and/or financial concerns. You will be informed of the final outcome of the case. If you would like, you may speak to the judge at sentencing. Q: What is the difference between a city case, a misdemeanor or a felony? A: In Denver, domestic violence crimes can be charged as a municipal ordinance violation, a state misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the incident and injury to the victim. In Denver the majority of domestic violence cases are municipal ordinance violations (city cases). The ticket written by the officer is called a General Sessions Summons and Complaint (GSS&C). The City Attorney handles these cases. Sentences range from a fine (maximum to $999), probation (up to two years) and/or up to one year in jail per charge. Jail sentences are served in the Denver County Jail. Misdemeanors and felonies are handled by the District Attorney s Office. Misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, but more serious than municipal ordinance violations. Sentences range from probation to two years in jail. Jail sentences are served in Denver County Jail. 6

9 A felony is the most serious criminal offense. In Colorado, a felony is punishable by one year to life imprisonment in a state penitentiary (prison) or by death, depending on the seriousness of the crime. Probation is also a possibility. Q: What does Domestic Violence Early Intervention mean? A: The District Attorney s Office attempts to handle misdemeanor domestic violence cases in a way that allows early contact with the victim and swift consequences for the abuser. This is referred to as Early Intervention and there is a designated team that handles these cases. The Victim Advocate for the District Attorney s Office will attempt to contact you to explain court procedures and assist with resources and safety concerns. When the abuser comes before the judge, you may be in the courtroom if you wish to make a statement; otherwise you will be informed of the outcome by the Victim Advocate. If the abuser does not plead guilty at the arraignment, the case will be scheduled for trial at a later date. The Victim Advocate will continue to keep you informed of upcoming court dates. In addition, the Victim Advocate and the Deputy District Attorney prosecuting the case will discuss any possible plea bargain offer or sentence agreements with you. Q: What is an arraignment? A: In misdemeanors or municipal ordinance violations, an arraignment is a session of court at which the judge will advise the accused of the charges, her/his rights (including the right to an attorney), and what may happen if convicted of those charges. The judge will then ask the accused person to plead to the charges. The accused may plead guilty or not guilty. If s/he pleads not guilty, the judge will set the amount of bail. Q: What is the purpose of bail (bond)? A: Bail is money or property put up to ensure that the defendant (accused) will return to court when s/he is supposed to. The amount of bail is set by the court and may vary depending on a number of things, including the seriousness of the offense and prior criminal history. Q: What is a no contact or mandatory protection order? A: A no contact or mandatory protection order is a condition of bond and prohibits the defendant (accused) from contacting you in any manner. There may be other conditions, as well. 7

10 Q: What if I don t want a no contact or mandatory protection order placed against the defendant? A: In misdemeanor and felony cases, the court is required to enter this at the first court appearance. If you do not feel this is necessary, discuss this with the Victim Advocate at the District Attorney s office or City Attorney s office. When a protection order is entered in any criminal case, it is up to the judge to decide if s/he will make changes to the order. Therefore, you will need to appear before the judge to make this request and let the court know why you do not feel it is necessary. Q: What is a preliminary hearing? A: A preliminary hearing applies to felony cases. Evidence is presented to the judge to determine if there is enough to justify a trial. The defendant, the defendant s attorney, the prosecutor, and any subpoenaed victims or witnesses are present and testimony is taken under oath. This hearing can result in the case proceeding forward to trial, reaching a plea bargain agreement or being dismissed. Q: What is a plea bargain? A: Plea bargaining is when the District Attorney or City Attorney offers to let the defendant plead to a less serious charge or fewer charges. Also, it can mean offering sentencing concessions to the defendant, such as offering probation or treatment instead of jail. There are many options with plea bargains. They are not offered in every case. It is important to remember it is the prosecutor s decision to offer the plea bargain, not the defendant s right to ask for one. You may be asked for input prior to any plea bargain offer. 8

11 CIVIL ACTIONS Q: What is a protective order? A: The term protective order is actually under the larger heading called orders of protection that are issued through the civil court. There are several different types of protective orders: which order you obtain depends on your individual situation and needs. A protective order is an order by the court that can restrain the batterer from having any contact with you, thus hopefully preventing further violence and/or threats. Through the issuance of a protective order the judge may force the defendant (batterer) to leave the family home. Q: Do I need an attorney to get a protective order? A: No. You can request a protective order in the county court pro se (without an attorney). Q: Does a protective order really do any good? A: ORDERS OF PROTECTION ARE ONLY PIECES OF PAPER. They should be considered one part of a safety plan. They will not protect you from a batterer who is intent on hurting you. If the defendant is determined to contact you, the protective order will not protect you by itself. If you feel the defendant will not follow the orders of the court, then you need to go to a safe place. Some defendants pay attention to orders of protection, others do not. (If you need to keep your address from the defendant, there are also forms available for this process.) IT IS HELPFUL TO HAVE A CERTIFIED COPY (notarized by the court clerk) OF THE ORDER AND PROOF THE DEFENDANT HAS BEEN SERVED TO SHOW THE POLICE WHEN THEY ARRIVE, IF THERE HAS BEEN A VIOLATION OF THE ORDER. In the event that you do not have a copy with you, it may be possible for the officer to look the protective order up in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation s Computer Registry. Q: What should I expect in a protective order hearing since I ll be there by myself? A: There are two parts to a protective order, the temporary hearing and the permanent hearing. The first step, the temporary hearing, you submit your protective order request to the judge. The defendant is not present. The judge will swear you in, read your request, ask questions, and then decide whether or not to issue the temporary order. If granted, the judge will set a future date for the permanent protective order hearing. The defendant must be personally served with the protective order prior to the next court date. You may not serve the defendant with the order. It is recommended that the sheriff s office serve the defendant. If the sheriff s office or the police serve the 9

12 defendant they need to fill out a proof of service form. The order is not valid until the defendant has been served. [You (the plaintiff) need to have proof that the defendant has been served before a permanent order can be issued.] Also, you can ask that the police officer to sign his/her name and badge number on a copy of the temporary protective order, stating that the defendant was served. You (the plaintiff) need to bring the signed copy back to the permanent protective order hearing. The defendant has the right to appear at the permanent order hearing to show cause why the order shouldn t be made permanent. Some defendants appear and some do not. You both have the right to have an attorney present. If you cannot afford one, contact Project Safeguard ( ) a non-profit agency that works with women and children of domestic violence and inquire about having an advocate accompany you to court (please call in advance). The advocate can t give you legal advice, but she can give you much needed support or provide other assistance. Protective order hearings in Denver are held, Monday - Friday (excluding holidays) at 8:30 A.M. in courtroom 124 D ( ) in the Denver City and County Building. Project Safeguard offers a free protective order clinic in the courtroom, Monday - Friday at 8:30 a.m. Please arrive on time. They can provide assistance in filling out the paperwork. Q: What if someone tries to get me to drop the charges or not testify by threatening me? A: If anyone makes threats towards you about the case, either in or out of court, that person s actions may be criminal. If this happens to you, immediately contact your local police department to report the threat and then inform the prosecutor s office. Q: What if the defense attorney contacts me about the case? A: You may talk about the case with the defendant s attorney before the hearing or trial if you wish. You are under no legal obligation to do so or not to do so. It is entirely your choice. If you decide to discuss the case, you have a right to have an attorney of your choice present or a representative from the prosecutor s office may be able to be with you. If you discuss the case with the defendant s attorney, please let the prosecuting attorney s office know. Q: Can I get some assistance with expenses related to the crime? A: Yes, in some cases. The Crime Victim Compensation Program may be able to assist you with specific expenses that are directly related to the crime. These include: Reasonable medical expenses. Mental health counseling for you and your children. Loss of wages, if injury prevents you from working. 10

13 Eye glasses, hearing aids, prosthetic devices, or other medically necessary equipment. Homemaking and home health services. Burial costs. Q: How do I obtain assistance? A: You can call the Crime Victim Compensation Program in Denver ( ). They are in the office Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. You will be sent an application for Crime Victim Compensation, which must be completed and returned to the program in order to obtain assistance. Many community agencies also can help you with this process of application. Q: What kind of expense(s) is not covered? A: Any insurance, Medicaid, Medicare or other resource must be used first. Crime Victim Compensation cannot assist with the following: Replacement of cash or replacement or repair of property. Repair for damage to a vehicle. Rent, utilities or moving expenses. Day care or wages for time spent in court. Legal costs. Pain and suffering. Expenses related to accident or suicide. Q: How much will it cost? A: If you are a victim of domestic abuse, stalking or sexual assault you will not have to pay the court filing fee or service fee. In other types of cases, there are forms that you can fill out requesting the court waive the fees. The filing fee (the charge set for court costs) for the protective order in county court is $46. Also, there is a charge to have the defendant served by the sheriff s office. Q: What about the children? A: At the temporary protective order hearing in the county court, the judge has the power to issue you temporary care and control of the children through the issuance of certain protection orders. The judge may or may not do this. THIS IS NOT CUSTODY. Temporary care and control of the children is just that, temporary. The county court judge can issue this order to last for a maximum of 120 days, giving you time to get an attorney, file for custody and/or a divorce in district court. The judge will probably issue some kind of visitation for the defendant to see the children. Supervised visitation through a third party may be an option. This third party also may be able to pick up and drop off the children, thereby avoiding any contact with the defendant. 11

14 Q: If I talk to the defendant after the protective order is made permanent, am I in violation of the court order? A: No. A victim cannot violate his/her own protective order. However, the best suggestion is to not have any contact with the defendant except in the areas identified by the court (i.e., exchange of children). Q: What do I do if the defendant violates the protective order by calling me or coming by the house? A: Call the police immediately. It may be a crime for the defendant to violate any provision of the protective order. The police may arrest the defendant for the crime of violation of the protective order even if no other crime (such as assault) has occurred. If the suspect has left by the time the police arrive, the officer may issue a warrant for the suspect s arrest. The police officer can look up the protective order on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation Registry. It is always a good idea to have a signed copy with you to show an officer. If you have a permanent order, the signed copy should be enough. If the order is temporary, you will need to show proof that the defendant was served with a copy of the order. If you have a temporary order which has not been served, and the defendant contacts you, the police (by law) can serve the order for you. They can order the defendant to leave, if s/he does not, s/he may be arrested. Although violations of most protective orders are crimes, the police may decide that they cannot arrest the defendant for this particular violation. In that case, they will advise you to file a motion for contempt with the court. You may do so by contacting the court that issued the order to find out how to file a contempt proceeding in that jurisdiction. In Denver, Courtroom 124D (Protective Orders Court) has contempt forms which you can fill out. Q: Can I enforce a Denver protective order in another county? A: The law says you can. Orders are valid in any other county/state. Also, Colorado will honor orders from another state. If the order is violated, contact the police/sheriff in the place where the violation occurred. Call the legal advocate agencies (listed in Chapter 6) for more information regarding contempt issues, preparation of permanent orders or developing a safety plan in addition to the court order. 12

15 CHAPTER 3 SPECIAL ISSUES MEDICAL CARE Seeking health care is an important aspect in caring about oneself and taking the first step in finding help. Domestic violence is itself a health problem affecting one s social, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. Physical symptoms may be a result of acute trauma the victim has suffered or emotional symptoms arising from daily internalized stresses. They come from broken bones to signs of depression (for example, decreased appetite, increased anxiety, or decreased energy). The physical and emotional abuse can end in the death of the victim. There are many options available including types of physicians and facilities available to help the victim. They can help with concerns about domestic violence and give referrals for assistance. Often domestic violence results in injuries that require emergency medical care. Emergency medicine is available 24 hours a day through hospital emergency rooms. Emergency rooms provide acute diagnosis, intervention, and treatment of victims of all ages with any complaint, as well as providing resources for needed referrals and follow up. It is not uncommon for victims to be so emotionally traumatized that they do not realize they need medical care until the next day. Medical and confidential psychological treatment can be provided. Family and friends will only be contacted at the victim s request. Emergency room staff realize it can be difficult to discuss domestic violence, but it is important to be up front with the nurse and doctor so they may help with immediate needs of medical care, emotional support and safe shelter. If the medical staff are aware the abuser accompanied the victim to the emergency room, they can take steps to protect the victim s safety while in the hospital. Some emergency rooms have counseling staff available to provide support for the emotional trauma caused by domestic violence, discuss issues and concerns and offer immediate assistance. Other emergency rooms will be able to provide victims with referrals to professionals who can help. If safe shelter is a concern for the victim and/or the victim s children, emergency room staff can assist a victim in contacting a domestic violence safehouse. Often a victim can be helped in going right from the emergency room to the safehouse. It is not required that a victim make a police report to receive medical and psychological care. However, most hospital emergency rooms can assist victims of domestic violence who want to make a police report by asking police and victim assistance personnel to come to the emergency room to meet with and assist the victim. 13

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