BRIGHAM CITY — She loves her husband, goes to church, spends her days nurturing children. And she could have sworn her marriage was as happy and as ordinary as they come.
Then her husband becomes hooked on pornography. When he asks her to do things she’s never even thought of, she refuses. He may get a bit “pushy-shovy,” perhaps more violent.
And this woman, the most normal neighbor on the block, becomes what Annette Macfarlane, director of the New Hope Crisis Center, describes as the new face of domestic violence.
She simply “has no tools to cope with this,” said Macfarlane.
Macfarlane, of Tremonton, recently made the rounds of Box Elder governments to update city leaders about the growing number of domestic violence cases in the county and to promote October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Despite the belief that “in our little happy valley we wouldn’t have a problem,” Box Elder County has seen an increase in domestic violence of more than 400 percent over the last six years, Macfarlane told city leaders. In 2011, some 2,212 people — women, as well as children and men — received some kind of service from the New Hope Center.
This year, that number through September is at 1,900, promising to make 2012 the busiest year on record. “It’s been an awful year,” she told the Box Elder Commission. She also visited the Brigham City and Tremonton councils.
She said violence in Box Elder County is rising, reflecting an increase nationwide. But if any good news can be pulled from those statistics, she said, it’s that those higher numbers show there’s more awareness among potential victims.
These days, we’ve moved beyond the stereotype of the beaten woman as the only victim of domestic violence. “There are many other forms of abuse — economical, physiological, or religious, where someone uses religion as a method of power and control,” she said. The center even helped 21 men in 2011, most of whom were the victims of stalking by ex-girlfriends or spouses.
Another class of victim in Box Elder County that Macfarlane worries about is the elderly. Based on county demographics, the center should be seeing more cases of elder abuse, she said.
“They’re just not coming forward,” she said, “and that’s a concern because we’re being hopelessly naïve if we don’t recognize that we, just like any other community in the state, have elderly people or vulnerable adults who are being exploited and abused.”
The crisis shelter and center, at 435 E. 700 South in Brigham City, serves all of Box Elder County.
About domestic violence
Domestic Violence Awareness Month events:
• Today: “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes,” registration 8:30 a.m. Race begins at 9 a.m. at 435 E. 700 South, Brigham City. Cost, $15. • Thursday: “Break the Silence,” 15th annual Footsteps to Light, 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Starts at Your Community Connection, 2261 Adams Ave., Ogden; ends at Peery’s Egyptian Theater, with a program at 6:30 p.m.
• Oct. 20: Training for clergy members of all faiths, 9 a.m. to noon, Weber State University Davis Campus, 2750 N. University Parkway Blvd., Layton.
• Oct. 23: “Tough Guise,” a film, sponsored by the Utah Men’s Anti-Violence Network, 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., YCC. • Oct. 29: “Domestic Violence is Scary” trunk or treat, 6 p.m., YCC. To learn more For more information about domestic violence or for help, call:
• 800-897-LINK (5465) • New Hope Crisis Center, 435-723-5600 • Safe Harbor Crisis Center, 801- 444-3191 • Your Community Connection, 801-392-7273
• One in four women report they have been physically abused by a husband or boyfriend. • Once every nine seconds in the U.S., a woman is beaten by an intimate partner.
• Nationally, 75 percent of battered women say their children are also battered.
• Up to 50 percent of all homeless women and their children are fleeing domestic violence. Source: YCC Warning signs of domestic violence
• Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
• Frequent and sudden absences from work or school.
• Frequent harassing phone calls from the partner.
• Fear of the partner; references to the partner’s anger.
• Personality changes (e.g., an outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
• Submissive behavior; lack of assertiveness.
• Isolation from friends and family.
• Insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car).
• Depression, crying, low self-esteem. Source: Department of Human Services