Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Domestic Violence

Domestic (or Family) violence is a serious social problem, especially because of the ongoing impact of violence on children. Family violence cuts across all cultural, economic, racial and gender divisions. 

The Family Violence Unit (“FVU”) of the Denver District Attorney's Office is a specialized unit that prosecutes all felony cases involving the physical and sexual abuse of children.  Additionally, the FVU is responsible for the prosecution of all felonies involving domestic violence, including homicides, physical assaults, sexual assaults, stalking cases, burglaries, trespass and offenses relating to violation of orders of protection.

The prosecutors, advocates, and investigators assigned to this unit have specialized training and expertise in prosecuting some of the most challenging cases in the office, and they are committed to handling them with discretion and compassion for victims.  Members of the FVU recognize that it is often difficult for victims to report intimate partner violence or child abuse, and they are dedicated to ensuring that victims and their families are protected and able to regain some control over their lives while their voices are heard in the criminal justice process.

The District Attorney’s Office works through partnerships with various community agencies to ensure a coordinated multi-agency response to domestic violence in order to provide victims with access to all possible services and resources.  The District Attorney’s Office connects victims of domestic violence with needed resources as quickly as possible, utilizing a triage approach to determine which cases are best brought as municipal ordinance violations by the City Attorney's Office or prosecuted as state crimes by the DA's Office, and coordinating with the agencies such as the Rose Andom Center, a multi-agency, safe location in downtown Denver that combines community and law enforcement resources and referrals to support victims of domestic violence. Professionals at the Rose Andom Center are available to assist with safety planning, to connect victims with community-based assistance, and to help victims better understand the criminal justice system.

What is domestic violence? 

Domestic violence is a pattern of physical, verbal, emotional, and/or sexual abuse in which a person attempts to intimidate, dominate, control, punish, or seek revenge against another person with whom they have an ongoing (or past) intimate relationship. The pattern, or cycle, repeats and can occur repeatedly during a relationship. Over time, the level of violence frequently increases. 

Domestic violence can take many forms. It can happen all the time or just once in awhile. The following are examples of domestic violence:

  • Physical assault - hitting, pushing, shoving, slapping, choking, kicking, grabbing, beating, tripping, biting, use of a weapon, punching;
  • Sexual assault – sexual activity without permission which can be physically forced, done through threats or intimidation, or happen when a person is too intoxicated or under the influence of any substance to agree to sexual activity;
  • Stalking – a pattern of conduct in which threats are used to intimidate or harass, or which results in serious emotional distress to a person;
  • Strangulation – putting hands around a person’s neck or cutting off  breathing in order to control, intimidate and/or harm that person;
  • Threats to assault or to do something harmful to someone, or to someone close to that person;
  • Forced isolation - controlling where someone goes or who a person is allowed to see, and/or not allowing someone to have contact with family or friends;
  • Economic abuse - preventing someone from getting a job or keeping a job, controlling all the finances, withholding money, requiring someone to ask for money and/or to justify spending money; or
  • Using children – threats to take away a person’s children and/or to harm the children in order to control or intimidate that person.

What are domestic violence crimes?

The Colorado legislature has defined domestic violence as any act or threatened act of violence on a person with whom the actor is or was involved with in an intimate relationship.

State law defines an intimate relationship as any type of romantic relationship, past or present, between couples. This encompasses virtually all types of couples including married and unmarried couples, same gender couples, couples who were dating, couples who have lived together, couples who have had children together, couples who are still together and couples who are no longer together. There is no time factor in the definition and there is no requirement that the couple be or were sexually intimate.

Domestic violence also includes any other crime against either a person or property when the offender is acting to coerce, control, punish, intimidate or is seeking revenge against the victim.

Some of the common crimes involving domestic violence include:

  • Assault
  • Sexual assault
  • Violation of a protection (restraining) order
  • False imprisonment
  • Criminal mischief
  • Menacing
  • Harassment or stalking

Domestic Violence Victim Assistance Resources

There are many community resources available to assist domestic violence victims and their families.  Please see our resource guide below for a general list of services, especially if you decide to leave or need to immediately leave a situation. 

This is not a comprehensive list so make sure you also contact your victim advocate for additional services or if you are looking for a program that is not found on this list.

Additionally, there are resources to help with obtaining a protection (restraining) order.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault cuts across all gender, cultural, and age barriers; anyone can be a victim of sexual assault, female or male.  Moreover, there is no typical sexual assault perpetrator; the offender could be a stranger, a trusted family member, a good friend or an acquaintance.  A majority of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.

Sexual assault is one of the most under-reported crimes in the United States. Some victims do not report due to fear, embarrassment, or trauma.  Others fear retaliation by the perpetrator.  Some worry about media attention.  Still others lack faith in the criminal justice system.

The Denver District Attorney’s Office is dedicated to holding offenders accountable for their crimes while ensuring that sexual assault survivors are treated with respect and dignity in the criminal justice system. 

A senior deputy district attorney with expertise in sexual assault prosecutions (the DA Sexual Assault Unit) oversees all sexual assault cases in the office. This oversight is intended to ensure consistency and fairness in determining whether and what kind of charges are to be filed, and to make sure that best practices are followed in the prosecution of these difficult cases.

Sexual assaults between intimate partners are assigned to the Family Violence Unit.

All other cases involving sexual assault - including sexual assault by a stranger, sexual assault between acquaintances, college campus sexual assault, and sexual assault on the elderly or disabled - are handled by experienced prosecutors in District Court. 

The victim advocate plays a critical role in assisting victims of sexual assault by making contact as early as possible to assess their needs and concerns, and by connecting them with various community resources. 

Through partnerships with various community agencies, the District Attorney’s Office works to ensure a coordinated, multi-agency response to sexual assaults in order to provide victims with access to all possible services and resources. 

One such collaborative effort is the Sexual Assault Response Team (“SART”), which is made up of representatives from the District Attorney’s Office, law enforcement, community agencies (including The Blue Bench), and health care service providers.  The goal of the SART is to emphasize best practices in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults through a victim- centered approach while focusing on offender culpability.

Another collaborative partnership is the Sexual Assault Interagency Council (“SAIC”), comprised of approximately 30 agencies representing the criminal justice system, medical professionals, educational institutions and victim service providers. The SAIC works to encourage sexual assault reporting, improve Denver’s response to sexual assault and ensure that victims have access to services to assist in their recovery. 

The Denver Anti-Trafficking Alliance (DATA) is another collaborative network, housed and supported by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, that works to create a victim-centered, multi-disciplinary response to human trafficking in Denver through victim services, collaborative investigation and prosecution, education and awareness, and public policy advocacy. DATA participants include law enforcement, children’s advocacy organizations, government service agencies, victim assistance organizations, private therapists, faith based organizations, and others involved in fighting human trafficking.

Victim Information, Assistance, and Resources

For more information about sexual assault, the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) offers a brochure “Understanding Unwanted Sexual Experiences” - DOWNLOAD HERE (courtesy of CCASA)

There are many community resources available to assist domestic violence victims and their families.

Please see our resource guide below for a general list of services. This is not a comprehensive list so make sure you also contact your victim advocate for additional services or if you are looking for a program that is not found on this list.

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resources

If you have been sexually assaulted:

Ensure your personal safety

Seek medical attention:

  • Emergency: Call 911
  • Denver Health Medical Center:303-436-6000

Call police:

24/7 Rape Crisis Hotlines | Linea de crisis sobre la violencia sexual

The Blue Bench
303-329-0031 (Español)

The Center for Trauma & Resilience
303-718-8289 (Español)
Hearing and Speech Impaired: Use 711 Relay Colorado to access the 24-hour hotlines

SafeHouse Denver
303-318-9989 (Crisis Line)
Emergency 24 hours/7days a week shelter and assistance for adults, children, and youth experiencing domestic violence.  

Protection (Restraining) Order Assistance

Instructions & Self-Help Forms

Project Safeguard
(domestic violence, stalking, sex assaults only)

Rose Andom Center
1330 Fox Street, Denver

Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Resources

Project Safeguard
Website (domestic violence, stalking, sex assaults only)

The Blue Bench
Assists victims of sexual assault through advocacy and support for victims.
303-322-7273 (Hotline)
303-329-0031 (Espanol)
303-329-9922 (Admin)

SafeHouse Denver
Emergency 24 hours/7days a week shelter and assistance for adults, children, and youth experiencing domestic violence.
303-318-9989 (Crisis Line)
303-318-9959 (Admin)

Latina Safehouse - ¿Qué es la violencia doméstica?
Los programas de LSH ofrecerán​ un medio ambiente seguro que brinde apoyo, con servicios linguí​stica y culturalmente receptivos en nuestros programas principals.

Provides culturally and linguistically relevant and competent services that meet the needs of Latina victims of domestic violence.

Rose Andom Center

Referral services from partnering agencies are available to all victims of domestic violence who are in need of information and assistance in finding safety for themselves and their children and longer-term needs and issues. Victims are not required to report their abuse to law enforcement in order to access services, and there are no fees for services provided.

1330 Fox Street, Denver
Hours of operation 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. (M-F) Entrance doors automatically locks everyday at 4pm.

The Center for Trauma and Resilience
303-894-8000 (Hotline)
303-718-8289 (Español)
Hearing and Speech Impaired: Use 711 Relay Colorado to access the 24-hour hotlines
303-860-0660 (Admin)

Muslim Family Services
Supports and advocates for victims of crime, immigrants, refugees, and other community members in need.

DOVE (Deaf Overcoming Violence Through Empowerment)
Dedicated to serving victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in the deaf community.
24 hour crisis hotline: 303-831-7874

Domestic Violence Initiative (DVI)—Disabilities
Helping people with disabilities overcome domestic violence, sexual assault, caregiver abuse and elder abuse.

WINGS Foundation
Serves adult victims of child sex abuse, rape, incest and molestation through support and therapist referrals.

Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV)

Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA)

For more information about sexual assault, read the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CCASA) brochure “Understanding Unwanted Sexual Experiences” Download the brochure by clicking this link.
(courtesy of CCASA)

Child and Youth Abuse Resources

The Denver Children’s Advocacy Center
Offers programs for children who have been physically or sexually abused.

Project PAVE
Works with teens, parents, teachers, and the community to prevent violence. Provides therapy and family advocacy.

SafeHouse Denver
Assists adults, children, and youth experiencing domestic violence.  Emergency 24 hours/7days a week shelter for battered women and children and other clients.
303-318-9989 (Crisis Line)
303-318-9959 (Admin)

Denver Department of Human Services
Click here for information

Tennyson Center for Children
Provides residential, therapeutic, and education services to Colorado children ages 5-18 who are victims of abuse or neglect or have mental health or developmental issues.

Mental Health Resources

Colorado Crisis Services
Provides a 24/7 confidential telephone services for mental health or substance abuse crisis.

The Center for Trauma and Resilience
303-894-8000 (hotline)
303-718-8289 (Español)
Hearing and Speech Impaired: Use 711 Relay Colorado to access the 24-hour hotlines
303-860-0660 (Admin)

Mental Health Center of Denver
Assists the Denver community with treatment, support and prevention related to mental health.

Find My Courtroom or Case