Colorado group pushing for law change allowing domestic abuse victims to take time off

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DENVER -- A group is pushing Colorado legislators to create a new law that aims to help domestic abuse victims.

Their effort is called "Safe Time." Its purpose is to let people take time off work while trying to escape from domestic abuse.

Safe Time would be incorporated into the paid family medical leave bill, which was defeated in the Colorado Senate during the last legislative session. A task force was appointed to re-work the bill and come up with a policy that they believe will set up domestic abuse victims up for success and freedom.

“My abuser outright said to me, 'You will be destroyed financially if you leave me'," said Rebecca Zimmerman, who says she was being abused by her partner two years ago.

She says her employer made the problem more difficult.

“Definitely I did hear, ‘Please keep your personal life out of work.' So that was difficult and very shaming," Zimmerman said.

She is one of the people pushing for a new law that would allow people in similar situations to take time off of work.

“This would be a part of the program that recognizes domestic violence as a serious health condition, as well as sex assault and stalking. According to Violence Free Colorado, over 60% of survivors report losing their job because of domestic violence," Zimmerman said. “That’s obviously a very scary thing and can result in people going back to bad situations."

Advocates say a change in the law would change that.

"When we look at people that needed to drop out of their life, essentially -- [to] come to shelter, flee everything just to be safe -- those are the types of folks that are going to really need a job-protected paid leave program," Zimmerman said.

She says she now has stability at work. She is hoping other woman can feel the same way without going through her experience.

“It would have made a huge difference for me to know I had the supports in place and really succeed in my career and not have to look back," Zimmerman said.

The public comment period on the bill is open until Sept. 25. Opinions are being gathered online.

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