With factors that include housing instability, increased firearm ownership, and a worldwide pandemic that forced Coloradans to stay at home, domestic violence calls to Fort Collins crisis lines jumped 40 percent in 2020. Early projections for 2021 will likely see an increase of 20 percent. The numbers significantly exceed the national average of eight percent growth.
Abuse leading to death
The increase in physical abuse also led to the highest number of domestic violence fatalities in five years. According to the Colorado Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board, a majority of the 63 deaths in 2020 involved a firearm. Most victims were killed by their partners.
Fueling the numbers were fear of homelessness, a risk factor in half of all cases, should victims decide to leave their homes, not to mention the impact on children and the fear of retaliation.
A pandemic plays a role
The COVID-19 pandemic was brutal on households nationally and worldwide, with rates of domestic violence rising by an average of 8%. Locally in Fort Collins, crisis calls to Crossroads Safehouse went up 40% in 2020. Early estimates showed another 20% jump in 2021.
Not all domestic violence is reported to crisis lines and law enforcement. In addition, not all accusations are proven to be true. Many alleged victims make allegations out of revenge or the desire to end relations. In addition to criminal consequences, the reputations of those wrongfully accused can follow them as they apply for jobs or housing.
Cases involving alleged domestic violence are emotionally charged and legally complex, necessitating representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney.