Sarah decided she needed to change her life after her daughter was born a year ago. The 28-year-old woman resolved to end her relationship with her husband of almost five years because she had enough of the verbal and physical abuse.
"I really didn't know what domestic violence was," said Sarah, who asked that her full name not be used. "I just thought the yelling, fighting and physical abuse were part of the relationship because that's what I saw with my mom and her boyfriends."
Sarah and her three children were among the 365 women and children who fled to Your Community Connection in Ogden to escape violent relationships, said Tallie Viteri, manager of YCC's domestic violence victim assistance center.
Most people know it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but only a few are aware that October is also Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Viteri said.
"Domestic violence is more than just punching, hitting and kicking," Viteri said. "The nucleus is the power to control."
Across the country every day, three women are killed by a boyfriend, partner or husband, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. And someone is sexually assaulted every 21aN2 minutes nationwide.
Those numbers rarely get talked about because those involved in a violent relationship are ashamed to discuss it with outsiders, said Del Bircher, the state domestic violence program administrator with the Department of Human Resources.
The stigma of being in an abusive relationship has diminished some, Bircher said.
But the level of violence is not diminishing, said Ann Penrod, executive program director at New Hope Crisis Center in Box Elder County.
"It used to be about 80 to 85 percent of those who came to us for services had no injuries," Penrod said.
Numbers from 2009 reveal a different story, she said.
Of the 317 women who came to the shelter for help, 48 percent had injuries.
Also, 33 percent had numerous injuries, 12 percent received medical attention and 3 percent were hospitalized, Penrod said.
Penrod said she does not excuse the abuse, but blames the "economic condition of our county."
In the past several years, Box Elder County has seen a number of companies either close or lay off a large number of employees.
Women are staying in abusive relationships longer because "they have no resources of their own and nowhere to go," Penrod said.
Penrod said she understands the shame and the difficulty of leaving an abusive relationship.
In 2003, she left her husband after he broke her jaw.
"I have a permanent mark on my neck where he strangled me with a dog collar," Penrod said. "I was embarrassed it was happening to me."
Penrod said she thought she was protecting her family by not telling anyone about the abuse, but realized if she didn't do something, "I was going to be dead."
Women who do arrive at a shelter, like Safe Harbor in Davis County, are staying longer than in the past, said Kay Card, shelter executive director.
The reason is the economy, Card said.
Helping women get on their feet so they can be self-sufficient is taking longer than before.
Finding jobs and affordable housing takes longer than in the past, she said.
Card also is seeing more women who say pornography is playing a role in their abuse case.
"This is a whole new department," Card said.
Domestic violence workers also are dealing with military families that are trying to cope with the after-effects of deployments to war zones, said Judy Kasten Bell, executive director with the Domestic Violence Council, a nonprofit organization.
"It's very scary, but there is great support from the (Veterans Administration) in getting resources and help to families," Kasten Bell said.
Also, it helps that more people are speaking out about domestic violence -- but more can be done, she said.
Domestic violence does not discriminate among gender, race, socioeconomic status or faiths, she said.
The council has been traveling across the state, talking to leaders of different faiths, letting them know resources are available and how they can help a person who wants to stop the abuse in their home.