Shelters are seeing more victims of domestic violence because society is getting more violent, say state and local officials.
“In the past, my pat answer to why we’re seeing more domestic violence victims was, ‘They are becoming more aware of our services,’ ” said Kay Card, executive director of Safe Harbor Crisis Center in Davis County.
“But that’s not my answer anymore. Things are becoming more violent.”
Safe Harbor had to turn away 46 families during fiscal year 2010-11 because it had no room for them. That number jumped to 209 families during fiscal year 2011-12, Card said.
And reports of sexual abuse have increased by 100 percent, she said.
“I’m starting to think we’re seeing the effects of a very violent society,” Card said.
“There is much more violence out there. The victims are tolerating much longer than they should, and it’s having an adverse effect on their ability to be parents. It’s also impacting their children’s ability to learn and thrive.”
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and shelters, as well as businesses, have planned events across the Top of Utah.
Even though local and state officials are trying to get the message out that domestic violence — whether physical, emotional, sexual, verbal or psychological — is not OK, it does not help when those in the media act like it is OK, said Ned Searle, director of the Office on Domestic and Sexual Violence.
“When you have role models like Chris Brown beating the crap out of Rihanna and all he gets is community service, that’s not OK,” he said.
Brown pleaded guilty in June 2009 to a domestic violence charge in California after police say he hit Rihanna in February 2009.
“Kids look up to (Brown) and others like him as a mentor, and they’re getting the wrong message,” Searle said.
But overall, Utah is doing a good job in getting out the message that violence is not OK in any relationship, Searle said.
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
Everyone knows someone who has been a victim of domestic violence, said Tallie Viteri, domestic violence victim assistance center manager for Your Community Connection in Ogden.
Domestic violence does not discriminate, she said.
“We see a little of everybody,” Viteri said. “We have women seeking help from all income levels, all education levels, all races, all faiths. I’ve helped women who have their Ph.D. I’ve helped women who are wealthy and women who are not.”
Annette MacFarlane, executive director with the New Hope Crisis Center in Brigham City, said violence has become mainstreamed.
“You just hear about it all the time,” she said.
“People are beating each other up, shooting each other, using knives. You see fights all the time on YouTube. You can Google it.”