September 19, 2023
The laws in the state of Colorado regarding domestic violence only deal with the perpetrator of the violence, but what about the others involved?
Domestic violence is literally a family affair – and its impact, no matter the final outcome of a criminal offense, will continue to change the lives of everyone involved, including children. That’s why it’s vital to do what you can to help children through the tough and confusing times in the aftermath of a domestic violence incident.
Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence in Colorado and specific things you can do to help the children who have been affected by it.
Domestic Violence in Colorado
In the state of Colorado, domestic violence is not considered a crime on its own. You won’t be charged with domestic violence specifically as a crime. Instead, it’s an aggravating factor or sentence enhancer for another crime that is perpetrated against those in your household or family.
In Colorado, police are mandated to arrest someone in a domestic violence call who they have probable cause to believe has perpetrated the crime, regardless of victim statements. This is another factor that can be traumatizing to children: Seeing one of their parents or a guardian in the household taken away.
Additionally, anyone with pending charges involving domestic violence may also have a protective order taken out against them. Often, these orders include no contact with minor children in the household.
How to Help Children in Domestic Violence Situations
Domestic violence is difficult for everyone involved, but children often don’t have the emotional maturity or skills to deal with the things they’ve witnessed as a result. Studies have found that exposure to domestic violence in children can lead to issues like anxiety and depression. This is why they need adults in their lives who can offer compassion and care to help them navigate through difficulties.
To support children who have witnessed domestic violence, you should:
Help Them Feel Secure
Children need to feel safe. In the wake of a domestic violence situation, they may feel isolated and alone. Build a connection with the children in your life who may be struggling by helping them to appreciate simple things again. Bake something together or read a book. Go to the park. Let them know that they are safe with you.
Kids have a lot of feelings about things that happen to them, and they often believe that negative things that happen in their lives are somehow their fault. That’s why you need to listen to them to understand how they’re feeling and where they’re coming from. Encourage discussions to help them develop communication skills that are constructive.
If there are questions from a child about the things that have happened, then you need to answer them honestly but in an age-appropriate way. You don’t have to dig into the nitty-gritty details of it all, but truthful responses can help them to understand what happened. Be calm in your explanations. Kids have big imaginations, and they can often visualize something worse than the reality of the situation.
Support may mean putting a child in counseling to help them deal with thoughts and emotions, but that’s not the only way to provide support to a child. Find other kids their age to help them know they’re not alone. This a great way to give them the social reinforcement that they need. Also, encouraging a new interest or hobby may help them to better deal with stress.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.