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Is a global pandemic fanning the flames of domestic violence?

Stay at home orders have governed Colorado since the end of March. Gov. Jared Polis recently changed the mandate to the less restrictive “safer at home.” However, the state’s capital of Denver and other cities are reluctant to ease the earlier requirements that effectively criminalize non-essential driving, large gatherings, and improper handwashing.

However, with the mandate for Coloradans to shelter-in-place, cabin fever often sets in for families. The onslaught of dire news surrounding COVID-19 adds a layer of fear and uncertainty. Combined with the stress of possibly losing jobs and seeing bank accounts fall into negative balances, disagreements between cooped-up loved ones, particularly for those on the verge of poverty, can occur over the smallest issues.

Escalating tensions among family members

Whether the world is dealing with peace or a pandemic, verbal barbs between couples can escalate, resulting in one partner calling the police, alleging domestic violence. In far too many cases, the accusations are a means to remove someone from the house.

When law enforcement is called, the spouse accused of domestic violence is often forced to leave, if only to ease the pressure created by the confinement. Others are arrested and jailed. Once the private matter becomes public fodder, accusations are put before the court of public opinion via news reports. Presumptions usually surround their guilt, not innocence.

After departing the secure confines of their home, a suspect’s destination could be the residence of a friend or family member. Others are forced into more crowded environments such as shelters or prisons where any type of contagious illness can spread in dangerous and deadly ways.

In these challenging times, the question over a criminal suspects’ well-being simply can’t be ignored. The consequences of domestic violence accusations should not result in contracting a serious or fatal illness.

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