Local domestic violence awareness group talks lessons from Petito case

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JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — No conclusions have been determined about Gabby Petito’s homicide, but the situation has many people talking about domestic violence.

Candace Cooledge is the executive director of PorchLight, a family justice center in Jefferson County.

Like most of us, she’s watched the Petito case and recognizes signs of domestic violence from the videos of Petito and her fiancé that have been broadcast around the country.

“The calmness of one party and the other party being upset,” she pointed out.

While this case has yet to be solved, Cooledge said the people who could have provided help can often be so close and yet so far away to the victim.

“Law enforcement has the most difficult job,” Cooledge said.

Officers will find themselves between two narratives or even a person who doesn’t want their partner in legal trouble.

“How difficult is that when you have two people maybe saying different things? They’re put in a very difficult situation,” Cooledge said.

Colorado domestic violence data

FOX31 obtained domestic violence data from the Colorado Attorney General’s Office.

The most recent data is from 2019. It found that 60 cases of domestic violence ended with a death in Colorado.

During that year, 70 people were killed — more than half of them the primary victim of domestic violence.

“Understanding the context of the relationship” is important, Cooledge said. She said a friend or relative would do right by a victim to learn more about their relationship to recognize when it’s more than just a fight between the two.

“What could be something innocent in one situation could lead to what we’ve seen in this situation,” she said.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can reach out to PorchLight.

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