Domestic violence homicides rise sharply in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) - Advocates are sounding the alarm about the rising number of domestic homicides being seen around the state, especially in rural areas. This comes after a Mapleton man killed his entire family during a murder-suicide last week.

Since 2000, more than 42 percent of all murders in Utah have been domestic homicides, often involving intimate partners. In 2017, there have already been 36 domestic homicides compared to 22 in 2016.

In rural areas of the state domestic violence can be an especially hard problem to tackle. The lack of resources available does affect people's willingness to come forward.

Sgt. J.C. Holt of West Jordan Police Department helps train law enforcement in rural areas. He said the tight-knit communities make it tough for people to act.

"Everybody knows everyone in rural communities," said Sgt. Holt. "Domestic violence is something that's a private issue, that people hold in private, and they don't want to talk about it."

According to experts, in some cases the perpetrator can be someone well-known in the community, and the victim may not want face backlash.

Sgt. Holt helps teach officers about the "lethality assessment." Which is a series of questions first responders can ask to a domestic violence victim to get a better idea of the danger they're in.

"When we have a first responder on scene who tells them something such as, "hey people in your situation have been killed," It is a little bit of a light bulb moment for people," said Sgt. Holt.

One of the biggest problems according to advocates is that people often don't want to discuss the topic. According to Rachelle Hill, who is the Victim Service Coordinator for West Valley City, there is still a lot of shame surrounding domestic violence.

"Really it crosses all barriers," said Hill. "There is no demographic no specific gender, there is no specific area that is immune from domestic violence."

Hill said because the topic isn't often discussed, people don't realize some of the non-obvious signs of domestic violence.

"Isolation is one of the biggest warning signs," said Hill. "Because what you need to do is make sure your victim doesn't have support."

Advocates urge anyone who is dealing with domestic violence or want to get help for those who are. They are urged to contact The Domestic Violence Coalition who can help people 24hrs a day.


If you or someone you know is in a dangerous, domestic situation there is free and confidential help. Support for victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence is available 24/7: 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or at
If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately

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