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.