In the past few months there were two cases of domestic violence related homicides that occurred in American Fork. These tragedies were horrific and leave many wondering what can be done to better protect victims of domestic violence. We view our area as safe and family-friendly, but the statistics show that domestic violence is more prevalent in Utah than we may realize. The Utah Department of Health has published the following data on their website:
- From 2000-2011, there were 226 domestic violence-related homicides in Utah, averaging 19 deaths per year,
- In 2012, more than 3,114 men, women, and children entered shelters to escape domestic violence.
- In 2008, 14.2% of Utah women (ages 18 and older) reported that an intimate partner had ever hit, slapped, pushed, kicked, or hurt them in any way.
- In Utah, women experienced 169,156 intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes each year.
- Nationally, each year, women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes.
- The percentage of women in Utah who reported ever experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) increased with age, with the exception of women who were 65 years or older.
- 39% of Utah women reporting IPV said the perpetrator was their husband or male live-in partner. 27% said the perpetrator was a former husband or former male live-in partner and 25.7% said the abuser was a former boyfriend.
- In Utah, divorce or separated women report the highest percentage of IPV (42.1%).
- Nationally, the estimated costs of IPV exceed $5.8 billion each year. This includes costs of medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity.
- There is approximately one intimate partner-related homicide every 33 days in Utah.
- 44% of intimate partner-related homicide victims were killed by a spouse.
- 147 Utah children were directly exposed to an intimate partner-related homicide from 2003-2008 and 78% of these children were under six years of age.
- There is approximately one domestic violence-related homicide each month in Utah.
- One-third of domestic violence perpetrators committed suicide after committing the homicide.
- There are approximately 3 domestic violence-related suicides every month in Utah.
- Almost 12% of adult suicides are domestic violent related.
According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribute, Jenn Oxborrow of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said domestic violence-related homicides in Utah have accounted for 42 percent of homicides statewide over the last 16 years.
There does appear to be some movement on finding ways to better help those who are victims of domestic violence. Two bills are being presented this legislative session that deal with domestic violence. The Utah County Commissioners recently held a townhall asking for input from the public on domestic violence resources in Utah County. These are a step in the right direction, but there is a lot more that needs to be done.
American Fork Police Department is committed to raising awareness to domestic violence issues in our communities. On March 8th at 7pm in the Vista Room, victim advocate Dawna Whiting and Sergeant Josh Christensen will discuss domestic violence and what resources are available to residents of Cedar Hills. I encourage residents to attend this important meeting to become more aware of this issue and to offer suggestions and thoughts on what communities, counties, and states can do to end the cycle of violence.