Advocates hope spike in domestic violence deaths brings quick changes

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DENVER -- Eleven people were killed in domestic violence-related cases last year in Denver, up from one the year before, the Dever Police Department said.

A police spokesman said the department can’t explain the sharp rise and called the numbers unfortunate.

Several organizations that support the victims of domestic violence said the news is heartbreaking and hope the sudden spike serves as a wake-up call.

“I would hate to see these people die in vain. And I would hate to see this continue,” said Jeneen Klippel, director of development and public relations at Gateway Domestic Violence Services. “I would like to say I’m surprised that it had gone up so drastically but really I am not."

Klippel said there is a desperate need for more funding, education and stricter laws. Agencies like Gateway are being forced to do more with less.

She pointed out that last year, two shelters in the Denver metro area shut down and a third cut the number of beds for victims by 75 percent.

But Klippel is encouraged by a new bill in Colorado that would create a statewide board to review domestic violence cases that resulted in death. Attorney General Cynthia Coffman said it’s about promoting prevention.

“From that sadness we need to be able to do something positive and pay tribute to the victims,” Coffman said last week.

The bill is expected to be introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence will launch a new campaign in April.

According to CCADV’s executive director, "Stand Up Colorado" is modeled after a successful program in New Zealand.

It will focus on those who engage in domestic violence and connecting them to treatment and help.

With the approval from New Zealand’s government to replicate their program, CCADV hopes to spread the focus among both victims and the perpetrators and promote a culture that has zero tolerance for domestic violence.

Resources to get help

For those who are the victim or know someone who is the victim of domestic violence, there are several area organizations who offer help.

Gateway Domestic Violence Services:
Crisis Line: 303.343.1851

SafeHouse Denver:
Crisis Line: 303-318-9989

The Rose Andom Center:
720-337-4400