DENVER — In less than three weeks, at least four people in Colorado lost their lives in domestic violence incidents.
October marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S., which totals 10 million men and women annually.
“National statistics have seen that there is about a 10% increase in domestic violence during the pandemic,” said Margaret Abrams, the executive director of the Rose Andom Center.
The Rose Andom Center helps connect victims of domestic violence with resources all under one roof.
“I think our capacity to meet the needs of victims is always stretched,” Abrams said.
Since the pandemic started, she’s noticed that victims are waiting until their situations become dire before they reach out for help.
“One of the hooks for many victims is when there are promises that the person they love and care about is going to change and promises that it will get better and that this won’t happen again,” Abrams said.
Experts say the chances of the perpetrator changing his or her abusive ways is unlikely unless treatment or therapy is involved.
Deadly cases of domestic violence have captivated headlines across Colorado in recent weeks.
Katherine Pivoda was an English instructor at the University of Colorado and a student. Her estranged husband is accused of stabbing Pivoda and her friend to death in a domestic violence incident.
On Monday, Denver Police responded to a call for a domestic-related shooting on the 10000 block of E. Girard Avenue. When police arrived, a teen and another victim had been shot. The teen, who was also a mother, later died. Investigators say the suspect died of a self-inflicted gunshot. The suspect and the teen had a baby together, according to police. The baby was reportedly dropped during the incident and sustained serious injuries. Court documents show the suspect petitioned for child custody just one day earlier.
In Longmont, a postal carrier was shot and killed. His ex-girlfriend was arrested and is facing charges for his death.
“Unfortunately, domestic violence is very much still a prevalent issue that many folks in our community are currently struggling with,” Abrams said.
The latest annual report released by the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board found that 70 people died in 2019 in at least 60 domestic violence incidents, a 63% increase in deaths compared to the previous year.
Abrams stresses the importance of lending an ear and asking friends or family members questions about bruises or possessive behavior by their partner.
“The question so many victims face oftentimes is, ‘Well, why don’t you just leave?’" Abrams said. “That is definitely the wrong question to be asking. The question is really, ‘Why does this other person abuse?’”