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Domestic violence survivors want some mandatory reporting laws repealed

DENVER -- It is an odd twist.

Many domestic violence survivors in Colorado want the state's mandatory reporting laws changed, believing they are having unintended consequences impacting the safety of victims.

On Friday, HB 1322 will be heard in the state Legislature. It would alter the mandatory reporting requirement doctors and nurses in hospitals are subject to.

The Colorado Coaltion Against Domestic Violence is supporting the law because it has heard from survivors.

People like Marie, whose name is being protected for her safety. She had to leave emergency rooms in the past out of fear doctors would call the police.

Marie said sometimes victims aren't ready for their abuser to be arrested.

"I said, 'Can I go to the restroom' and I kept going," Marie said. "This is my secret for now. I know that if my secret comes out, not only am I impacted by further injuries, but my daughter can be as well."

Nanette Chezum, a domestic violence survivor, said leaving an abuser is not an "event" but an entire "process."

"Eventually, the offender is going to be released and without any safety plan in place for a survivor, that increases their safety risk," Chezum said.

But standing in the way of possible repeal are Colorado district attorneys, who believe mandatory reporting saves lives.

"I disagree that mandatory reporting is bad," said Tim Johnson, the deputy district attorney in Boulder County.

Johnson said statistics show any intervention with an abuser -- including arrests -- prevents possible murder later.

"Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, and that outnumbers car accidents, muggings and rape combined, Johnson said.

The measure will be debated Friday on the House floor.