OGDEN -- Domestic violence might not be an issue on the minds of a lot of residents, but according to data from law enforcement and a local domestic violence shelter, the lack of awareness and knowledge about the subject may be doing further harm to the families trying to escape it.
"We have been overflowing for the last three months. One day alone we turned away nine families," said Julee Smith, the executive director of Your Community Connection.
YCC has the ability to house 30 people in its shelter, and Smith said 45 adults and children have already been turned away because of overflowing in the month of August alone.
YCC has plans to add more space, but has not yet started the add-ons because of lack of funding.
The Ogden Police Department reported Thursday that it has had 44 domestic violence cases filed in August so far.
That number is up 12 cases from 32 last year, and it doesn't reveal the truth about what a hard time victims of domestic violence might have when trying to get protection from their attackers.
"You have to be able to determine a primary aggressor in order to make an arrest. You have to have some kind of physical evidence that you can hang your hat on. You don't know who to believe, because they both often have different stories, and they both might be banged up," said John Harvey, deputy director of police support services.
Being threatened or physically harmed, therefore, does not guarantee that law enforcement will be required to take an abusive spouse into custody.
YCC also has numbers that indicate a much larger number of domestic violence cases occurring in homes than being taken care of by police.
YCC reports that it has received 385 hotline calls between June and August, averaging about four per day. Only 7.4 percent of YCC's in-facility cases are discovered from referrals by police.
Walk-in cases, in which a person does not end up living at the shelter, have a police-referral rate of 15 percent.
Smith stressed how much she respects law enforcement and what a help they have been in many cases, but she observed that simply trying to report an attacker has not been effective for many domestic violence victims.
"The majority of police officers are amazing, and I really admire them. I know there are times when they get frustrated, because they might get called multiple times a week by one person, and when they can't figure out the truth, I think there are times when they just throw up their hands and say, 'Here we go again,' and there are times when they go into situations that are not very clear cut," Smith said.
The National Women's Law Center recently released a report revealing that Utah ranks in 48th place in the national gender wage gap, and that women usually earn about 69 cents for each dollar earned by men. Smith thinks this may contribute to domestic violence.
"Women are paid less, and domestic violence is a lot about control, and the victim feeling that she will not be able to support herself if she leaves an abuser," Smith said. "What I see is a mentality that ranges across all cultures, which is that women should take secondary roles."