The stay at home orders implemented by Denver and Colorado are meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. But they can also be difficult for women in abusive relationships.
“Being home is not necessarily a safe option,” for them, said Margaret Abrams, executive director of the Rose Andom Center, which provides support services to victims of domestic violence.
While reported crime has dropped in Denver overall this month, Abrams said she anticipates domestic violence is increasing.
“Honestly, I am really concerned that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg right now,” Abrams said. “There are some victims that just won’t be safe to reach out for services right now. We may not see the implications of that for weeks or months.”
Rose Andom staff members are working remotely, leaving the center’s offices on Fox Street empty for now. However, the center has been offering its services online or by telephone, with the center’s main phone line now forwarding to staff working from home.
The only people still working from the building are members of Denver police’s domestic violence unit, which works out of the center.
Abrams said the center got more calls this week than last week, including more requests for help and from victims trying to access shelter services.
Rose Andom, which leads a network including six city agencies and 16 non-profits, has posted resources on its website including information about 24-hour emergency phone lines and places to get food. It’s also still doing crisis intervention and counseling services, through secure video chatting.
“I would encourage them, still call,” Abrams said of potential clients.
But moving services online presents challenges for victims, who may not have access to a phone or the internet. Even if they do, it can be unsafe for some victims to use them to communicate.
Jennifer Eyl is executive director at Project Safeguard, an organization providing legal support for domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault survivors. Some advocates who work for Project Safeguard are based at the Rose Andom Center.
Eyl said Denver County courts told them earlier this week it would only accept protection order filings electronically; the Protection Order Courtroom, housed at the City and County Building, is still open but is restricting in-person access. Eyl said Project Safeguard is still figuring out how to transition its services to accommodate the court’s new rules.
Eyl said she believes there have been fewer protective orders filed in recent days.
“The fact that we are just not there physically to meet people at that moment is a tremendous change,” Eyl said.
Anyone interesting in seeking services from the Rose Andom Center can call 720-337-4400.