Utahns do a good job of combating domestic violence, said Brandy Farmer, chairwoman of the Salt Lake Area Domestic Violence Coalition. There is some good news this month, which has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Unfortunately she can't report that our homes are becoming more peaceful as a result of everyone's efforts.
She is proud to say this, "When we travel, those of us who work in domestic violence, when we go to other states for national conferences, we find other states are not as coordinated as we are."
Utah has a statewide council and 23 regional coalitions, like the one Farmer heads in Salt Lake City. "We coordinate education throughout the state of Utah, letting people know that we have shelters around the state, places where victims can go for help. We reach out to shelters, advocates, law enforcement, prosecutors . . . We educate faith leaders."
The Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-897-LINK) offers translators as well as resources for English-speaking victims. There is also a Web site (www.udvc.org), which has information for everyone friends of victims, reporters who want to interview victims, teachers or counselors who want to earn continuing education credit by learning more about domestic violence.
And yet, Farmer said, in spite of all that is being done to educate and arrest, domestic violence is becoming more lethal. And, if you look at the statistics alone, it seems to be becoming more prevalent in this state. Utah currently ranks 16th in the nation for incidences of domestic violence per capita, Farmer said.
The number may be a bit misleading, though. It may be that Utahns are reporting domestic violence more often than victims in other states, Farmer said. It may be that people are reporting more often because Utah does a good job of educating, she said.
Then too, domestic violence is more prevalent in young couples and Utah has the youngest population in the United States. "The majority of those reporting are between 17 and 35," Farmer said.
Farmer can't predict the future, but just lately she has started to worry about the aging population. The cycle of abuse that began as spouse against spouse and parent against child will take on a new, but equally destructive dimension, when the spouses and parents age.Farmer tells of one woman who became wheelchair-bound and whose husband refused to put ramps in their yard or hand-grips in their bathrooms. And when it comes time for children of abusive parents to take care of those aging parents, Farmer fears, "It is going to be payback time."