Domestic Violence: Getting Help

Answering the question: What happens after you call 911?

The numbers are shocking. According to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, here in Utah, 42% of all murders since the year 2000 were related to domestic violence. Advocates say, very few victims will reach out for help because they don't know what will happen if they make that call. That leaves them stuck in a situation where the violence will very likely escalate. ABC 4 Utah finds out what you need to know before a relationship becomes deadly.

 

Domestic violence calls to 9-1-1 have become all too familiar for officers on patrol in the Salt Lake Valley. This summer, police responded to a disturbingly high number of domestic violence incidents, many that would end as homicide investigations.

 

West Jordan Police Detective, J.C. Holt has answered far too many of these calls.

 

"It’s a huge issue in Utah, yeah,” Holt told ABC 4 Utah.

 

Holt has trained dozens of law enforcement agencies across the state on how to better handle domestic violence situations. He allowed our cameras to go on a simulated domestic training call with Officer Eric Taylor.

 

"Usually there's very little information about what we're going to, and then when we get there emotions are very high," Taylor explained.

 

West Jordan officers, like dozens of agencies across the state, use the "Lethality Assessment Protocol" or "LAP" during domestic situations. One page, 11 questions, designed to help officers recognize the danger signs.  Questions like, is your partner jealous or controlling? Does he/she follow or spy on you or leave threatening messages? Has he or she ever tried to choke you? And has your partner ever threatened to kill you or your children?

   

Once the officer determines the victim is in danger, they'll offer to put the person in contact with South Valley Services, an organization that provides safe shelter and supportive services for victims of domestic violence.

 

"It’s very empowering to them to also have someone say, yes, what you're experiencing is violent. So when law enforcement comes and says that to them, it's powerful," said Jennifer Campbell, Executive Director of South Valley Services.

 

Campbell believes a fear of the unknown can keep some victims from seeking help.

 

"Helping individuals better understand what shelter looks like is absolutely a way to put aside some of the fear of change and of differences," she explained.

 

Campbell walked us through the residence to take away some of the mystery. Families get their own rooms, have access to a full kitchen, clothing, and most importantly, counseling.

 

We spoke with one resident, who explained his process of finally getting help.

 

"I didn't know what to expect, I was scared. It was the fear of the unknown because we've never been in a situation like this before," he said.

    

He asked us to hide his identity for his family's safety. He said, after he was stalked and threatened by his ex, he called police who warned him the violence would escalate.

 

"I was thinking there's no way that could happen to me as a guy. So I went home and all those things he said was going to happen were happening. When you have to screw the windows shut and stuff like that, it's pretty, its pretty anxiety ridden," he said.

 

Despite the anxiety, fear, and potential for danger, the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition says, only 2% of victims had a protective order before they were murdered.

 

It takes courage to make that report, courage this victim is grateful he was able to muster, not only for his safety but the safety of his children.

 

"And now, like, I feel comfortable where we're at and I don't have to feel like we're in danger," he said.

 

Once residents leave South Valley Services, they're connected with counselors within their community so they can continue addressing their trauma.

 

If you or a loved one are experiencing domestic violence, as you can see help is available.

 

Click here to contact South Valley Services. 

Click here to contact Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

If you are in immediate danger, please call 9-1-1.

 


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