High Rate of Domestic Violence Worsens in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 UTAH) - All month, the nation celebrates Domestic Violence Awareness month, but here locally, that celebration is short-lived.  Over the last ten years, 30% of homicides nationwide are because of domestic violence.  Utah is much higher at 42%.
 
"The last time he almost killed me in front of my daughter," said Deanna Walker from Private Violence.
 
Domestic violence does happen, usually to women and kids.  A Sundance film called "Private Violence" sparked national conversation.  In Utah, domestic violence happens more often compared to the national average.
 
"We have really high rates of domestic violence, really high rates of sexual assault, and exceptionally high rates of domestic violence homicide," said Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Executive Director Jenn Oxborrow.
 
Last year, 20 Utah homicides connected to domestic violence.  So far this year, 30 domestic violence deaths.  We still have three more months to go.  
 
"I think there's a lot of pressure on families to keep this private, work with their faith leaders, work with community partners to resolve it," said Utah Domestic Violence Coalition Executive Director Jenn Oxborrow.
 
But Oxborrow says obviously that isn't working.  She says getting police agencies and first responders asking the same eleven questions trained victim advocates ask possible domestic violence victims, is working.  Their answers can prompt police to connect them with services.
 
"Implementing this protocol, that in 30 other jurisdictions across the country, within five years, they've seen a downtrend in domestic violence homicides," said Oxborrow.
 
As more agencies get the training necessary, Oxborrow hopes more victims can get help.  They'll break through the cultural acceptance of a private, family problem to a serious life-threatening criminal offense.  Changing that stigma on the court-level is the premise of "Private Violence."
 
That's why Oxborrow and other advocates ask the governor and the legislature to change laws, implement harsher penalties, and provide funding for services.
 
You can watch a screening of "Private Violence" Monday night at the West Valley City Police Department.
For a complete list of all the screening opportunities across the state, click here.
 

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