Thursday, March 27, 2014

How to Get Involved

Many people know what domestic violence is and know how it impacts society. They want to help but do not know where to start. If you were in this situation, where would you start? Are you in this situation?

According to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition (UDVC), there are plenty of things that you can do to get involved. For starters, attending the UDVC and/or SLADVC monthly meetings will provide you with information for further participation. If this option does not work with your schedule, making a donation will have positive impact. 

Donations come in all shapes and sizes. A donation does not necessarily have to be in the form of money, but may also be items. The SLADVC is hosting a yard sale on May 17, 2014 and is looking for new or gently used items to sell. If you fit into this category, do not hesitate to donate items! Contact April at in order to do that. 

When donating, many people may think that they are not able to “give enough money” or that they have to give huge sums. Please do not think this. The SLADVC, UDVC, other coalitions and shelters will accept any money donation or contribution. That money goes a long way in enabling these places and groups to continue to provide domestic violence awareness and relief. Every little bit counts.

Another of the biggest things to do in order to get involved is to be aware when this is happening to someone you know. If someone around you has been affected by this issue, do not simply turn your head the other way. Get involved with that person and become a positive beacon in their life and the lives of their children if applicable. Every little bit counts!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reasons Why People Stay

Imagine being in a relationship with history behind it and feeling like you want to leave because abuse has become an increasing threat. You do not have money to leave, you have loved this person for years and consequently your emotions are pulling you up and down. You fear what would happen to your children. This is a situation many find themselves in.

People who are not in abusive relationships may find it hard to understand why those who are choose to stay. In today’s society, victims are often blamed as being “incompetent” or “needy and weak.” This is not true. Ending a relationship – especially if there are years behind it – can be hard.

According to WebMD, people stay for many reasons, which include:

-Shame and embarrassment. Victims often feel these two emotions and may cope with abuse through denial. Another possibility is that they are the only member in their family faced with this issue. 

-Lack of resources. Money is a resource that if sometimes tightly controlled. If a woman is in a situation of leaving, she may question how she will be able to support herself and her children. Elderly or those with disabilities may not feel that they have any options than to stay with their partner.

-Custody worries. A parent, especially women, may worry about losing custody of the children if they leave.

-Deportation. If a person is an immigrant who is not a citizen, this fear can be very strong to hold a person in place. It may be that their partners have threatened to speak of this issue to local authorities. Also, if a person is not fluent in English, this could present a challenge.

It is important to understand that someone why stays in an abusive relationship is not incompetent or weak. This may be the toughest thing they have ever had to do in their lives, and that can demand a lot of strength. No one can make these decisions for them, but we all must be that support system that is needed. 

Do you know of any situations in which a person has left the relationship and created a better life because of it? 

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Elder Abuse: How Common is it?

Domestic violence is a broad term, and thus it encompasses elder abuse. Abuse of the elderly is something that is, with many people, not thought about as often as other types of abuse. This being said, it does indeed happen too many times. 
To name a few, this type of abuse can include financial, emotional, housing, neglect or physical harm. The best summary of what elder abuse is and how dominate it can be comes from, which stated: 

“During the fiscal year in 2004, Adult Protective Services investigated 2,340 allegations of vulnerable adult abuse, neglect, and exploitation. Thirty-three percent of all confirmed cases in 2004 involved self-neglect. Another 18 percent involved emotional abuse; 18 percent involved financial exploitation; 15 percent involved physical abuse; 11 percent involved caregiver neglect; and five percent involved sexual abuse….As elders become more physically frail, they are less able to stand up to bullying and or fight back if attacked. They may not see or hear as well or think as clearly as they used to, leaving openings for unscrupulous people to take advantage of them.”

As stated, elderly abuse covers a wide array of problems. However, there are some preventative steps that can be taken to better ensure this does not happen. We can all help reduce abuse to the elderly if it is happening. A few simple steps as stated by the same website as listed above are to listen to seniors and their caregivers. This step is often “brushed away,” with the thinking that seniors “are going crazy.” Another step is intervening when suspected abuse is happening. One last step is educating ourselves and others about how to recognize and report elder abuse. 

Ask yourself: In what ways has elder abuse affected your life? In what ways can it be prevented in the lives of those elders around you?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Safety Planning: What to do Before and After

Domestic violence can often times be avoided if a safety plan is in order beforehand. It is important to understand that the presence of a safety plan does not necessarily eliminate domestic violence completely, however, it can do its part to help the victim when in danger.

According to, making a safety plan now can help to keep everyone safe later. The following are a few guidelines for them.

      -Get rid of guns and ultimately weapons in your household
      -Install locks on all doors and windows. If this does not make a different to the perpetrator, then                     changing the locks will help
      -Install outside lighting and security cameras
      -Ask your phone company for an unlisted number
      -Plan and fully practice an escape route with the children of the home
      -Teach the children when and how to call 911
      -Know how to defend and protect yourself
      -Know the location of the nearest domestic violence shelter location
      -Have a “code word” to use with the children of the home, trusted family, friends and neighbors. Make          sure that it is not a word that a perpetrator would know and use.
      -Making several copies of the protective order (if this applies) is a good idea. It may need to be shown          to police and everyone else who is protected by the order.
      -Hide an emergency bag in a place that is easily accessible. Some possible items to include are: cash,              medicine, clothing, toiletries, extra keys, phone numbers, copies of important documents, driver’s                  license and insurance cards. 

During an attack at the home (if this is where it happens) here are some steps to follow:

      -Escape as fast as possible with the children! (it does not matter what time it is)
      -Call the police
      -Go to a domestic violence shelter if possible, if not go to a trusted friends house
      -Photo document injuries (if applicable)

If these steps for before and after a domestic violence stint are taken seriously and are practiced, the chances of a dangerous outcome are slimmed. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Protocols with Victims

How does the legal system in regards to domestic violence fan out? The Salt Lake Area Domestic Violence Coalition is one of 22 local domestic violence coalitions across the state.  The majority of victims in Utah are reluctant to contact law enforcement and report domestic violence. 

According to the Dan Jones and Associates Domestic Violence Incidence and Prevalence Study conducted in 2005, fear of the perpetrator is seen by 51 percent of those who identified as victims as to why they did not report the abuse.

According to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, the following principles are recommended for effective and safe outcomes when victims are dealing with reporting issues:
-Adhere to the rights of victims as outlined in the State of Utah Constitution and statute     Article I, Section 28
            -Keep the focus and accountability on the offender, not the victim
-Ensure that victims are not scared to participate in the legal proceedings that may follow; they need to feel welcomed and not intimidated
            -Victims must have access to a victim advocate throughout THE ENTIRE process
-Keep the victim informed AT ALL TIMES, this includes keeping in continual contact and communication, even if the victim chooses not to testify or appear throughout the court proceedings
-Develop a plan that outlines response tactics and written protocols for when victims do reach out for help to ensure that no victims are turned away and/or legally mistreated

The safety of the victims needs to be the priority in all situations. They have already been through too much and may be frightened. Assisting them with services should be the main focus because a lack of intervention may only intensify the violence and situation.

As noted throughout Tuesday’s SLADVC meeting, some perpetrators are not getting the help that is needed on their end because of loopholes throughout the legal system. This may be out of our hands (to a certain extent) but we can do all that we can in order to help those victims.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Health Effects

The health effects of violence on a victim’s heath can range from mild to severe, with severe being more common. In addition to the immediate injuries from assault, some of the pains that can be suffered are chronic pain, gastrointestinal disorders, psychosomatic symptoms or eating disorders. All forms of domestic violence have the potential to have devastating physical and emotional health effects. For the purpose of this blog, the focus will be on women.

According to the Advocates for Human Rights (AHR), Women who are abused suffer from an increased risk of unplanned or early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, which could include HIV/AIDS. Women are more vulnerable while pregnant, thus they may experience medial difficulties throughout their pregnancies. Women who experience intimate partner abuse are three times more likely to have gynecological problems than non-abused women. Aside from these, they are also at an increased risk of substance abuse.

The AHR also point out that there are significant obstetric risk factors associated with domestic violence. Abused women are more likely to have a history of sexually transmitted infections, vaginal and cervical infections, kidney infections and bleeding during pregnancy. The most common non-fatal injuries are to the head, neck, face, musculoskeletal and genital injuries.

Women can be intentionally murdered by their abusers and lose their life as a result of injuries inflicted by them. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 38 percent of all women murdered with the likes of domestic violence are killed by an intimate partner.

When it comes to strangulation, it rarely leaves vivid external physical marks and so police may not recognize the victim’s need for medical assistance right away. However, the injuries resulting from strangulation can be fatal and can kill the victim within 36 hours.

Women who are abused may be more likely to commit suicide. According to United Nations International Children’s Relief Fund (UNICEF), “suicide is 12 times as likely to have been attempted by a woman who has been abused than by one who has not.”

With a little help from volunteers, these abused women can get the help they need. The community needs to be more engaged with what is happening inside its borders. 

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Protective Orders

Six years ago when Melanie married Jake, she never imagined that one day he would hold her hand on the burning stove until she had 3rd degree burns. She never dreamed that he would beat her in front of their 5 year old daughter. She never thought she would be a victim of domestic violence and would require a protection order. The daily tortures that she was receiving became her reality and she was scared. Scared of the unknown, scared because she did not know where to turn, scared because she felt her world was closing in on her and she felt like she suffocating.

Like Melanie, one in four women have been subject to domestic violence. Many of these women find the courage and strength to go through the protection order process. On the other hand, many of these women are intimidated by the legal system or do not have the information they need to obtain a protection order.  These women need to feel empowered and receive the appropriate help they so deserve. By allowing these victims to obtain a protection order early from their predators, the problem may be resolved before it reaches the next level.

A protection order can protect these women who have suffered from domestic violence by ordering the abuser to stay away from them. There are three locations where victims can apply for a protection order: Superior Court, District Court, and Municipal Court. These victims can obtain protection order forms form the Clerk’s office or from the Protection Order Advocates Office.

The person who requests a protective order is known as the petitioner, the other person is known as the respondent. In Utah, a protective order can do many varying things, for instance it can order the respondent to not harm the petitioner, the petitioner’s children or anyone else who may live with the petitioner. It can also order the respondents to stay away from the petitioners home, job, vehicle, school and not to contact or harass the petitioner in any way, shape or form. It may also order the respondent to not have any guns or other weapons, order temporary custody, support for the children, or parent-time, order temporary spousal support if those filing are married and order the children to be removed from Utah.

Although Melanie’s story has a violent beginning, it has a happy ending. Melanie was able to receive the help she deserved and is no longer a victim of domestic violence. Today, Melanie and her daughter are adjusting to their new life full of hope, safety, and happiness. They are also grateful they left behind the fear and uncertainty their future once held.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Statistics: What are the Numbers?

Before truly being able to understand how prevalent domestic violence is, one must be able to find meaning with the numbers behind it. There are, of course, wide arrays of statistics throughout the United States on this subject. Let us first focus on those and then we can narrow in on Utah’s statistics. These statistics are according to

Every nine seconds, a woman is assaulted or beaten in the U.S, one of the days where this activity occurs most is the day of the Super Bowl.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women. This equates to be more than the numbers of car accidents, rapes and muggings combined.

Up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence in their lifetime annually.

In the U.S. alone, the cost of domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion per year.  Breaking this number down, $4.1 billion is for medical costs and health care services, while the remaining $1.8 billion accounts for productivity losses.

Lastly, men who witnessed this type of violence or something like it as children are twice as likely to continue to same behavior on their own families when that time comes.

Now let us break down these numbers and look at only Utah. The most recent data will be from 2012, as 2013’s numbers have not been broken down yet. These numbers are derived from

More than 3,113 men, women and children entered shelters to escape some form of domestic violence.
The total numbers committed by family members decreased slightly from those of 2009.

Of these offenses, 19 percent were committed by a spouse and 30 percent were committed by a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Since 2000, domestic violence related homicides accounted for 39.8 percent of all adult homicides.
There has been an increase in the length of stay and the number of days in shelters.

And lastly, in incidents where a weapon is used, 87 percent of those weapons were categorized as personal weapons. This would indicate that hands and/or feet were used.

These statistics are harrowing, and the biggest thing that can be done to improve them is to get the word out. Please help us in spreading the word that when victimized, domestic violence is something that is not to be ashamed.