Domestic violence advocates partner with lawmakers on legislation to protect survivors

SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) - Lawmakers and domestic violence advocates are working together on proposed legislation and funding that would improve safety and services for survivors.

 

This was part of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition's (UDVC) Advocacy Day at the state capitol.

 

"Nationally, about 30 percent of those homicides are caused by a domestic violence partnership," said Jenn Oxborrow, executive director of UDVC. "In Utah, we're exceeding that national average and we're very concerned about that. This past year, we had 48 lives that were lost to domestic violence-related deaths."

 

Two bills of focus for UDVC are Senate Bill 27 and House Bill 125.

 

Oxborrow said Senate Bill 27 would expand the definition of the Cohabitant Abuse Statute to include dating violence. This allows law enforcement to better assist victims in dangerous situations.

 

"We know it's incredibly challenging sometimes to get a protective order. It's very difficult to do anything if you haven't cohabited with the person. Often times, other people know about the violence and abuse, but they're scared to come forward," said Oxborrow.

 

"The one thing we want people to know is that if they're experiencing domestic violence is that we're here for them," said Representative Angela Romero for SB 27.

 

House Bill 125 would require someone to call 911 if they see or know about someone getting hurt in an emergency or violent situation.

 

"Hopefully, this will improve the quality of life for Utahns by ensuring that we come to each other's assistance a little bit more frequently with a little bit more quickness when situations like this happen," said Representative Brian King, bill sponsor for HB 125.

 

Debbie Mayo is a survivor of domestic violence and now the executive director of New Horizons Crisis Center. She said domestic violence is never acceptable.

 

"A lot of times, they think there's two sides to every story and just because someone did something, something had to have happened," said Mayo.


Jennifer Campbell, executive director of South Valley Services said domestic violence impacts more people than the community is aware of.

 

"What we don't understand is domestic violence looks many different ways. There's financial abuse, there's spiritual abuse, there's mental abuse, and people can't relate to that," said Campbell. "Once they understand what the definitions of abuse look like, they realize they know someone who's been in this situation whether it's their friend, their sister, whether it's themselves that has experience violence."


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can contact the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition any day, any time at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).


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