One in three Utah women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime, and 40% of adult homicides in Utah are domestic violence related.
Domestic violence is a serious and widespread issue affecting women and families in Utah. One in three Utah women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime, and our rate is slightly higher than the national average (32.4% vs 28.8%). 1 According to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, more than 40% of adult homicides in Utah since 2000 have been domestic violence related. 2 Domestic violence is often presumed to refer only to physical violence, but it also includes many other forms of abuse—emotional, verbal, financial, spiritual, digital/online, and sexual. Domestic violence can be perpetrated against anyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, or socioeconomic status. A recent survey shows that 86% of
Utah women believe domestic violence is a problem in their communities, and 63% believe violence against women is increasing.
Domestic Violence in Utah
First, it is important to note that the terms “domestic violence” and “intimate partner violence” are often used interchangeably to describe abusive behavior by one individual against his or her partner in a relationship, but technically intimate partner violence is a subset of domestic violence. For the purposes of this snapshot, the term “domestic violence” will generally be used.
Domestic violence is a threat to the safety and well-being of Utah women. According to a 2008 report from the Utah Department of Health (the most recent report with these specific data), women in Utah experienced 169,156 intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes each year (these data were collected by the Utah Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2008). Of women who experience domestic violence, 66% said the perpetrator was a current or former husband or male live in partner, and 26% said the abuser was a former boyfriend.5 Approximately 21% of Utah women who have been victims of domestic violence report having been in multiple abusive relationships. Utah women are 10 times more likely to die from domestic violence related homicide than men, though more Utah men than women commit suicide because of domestic violence.11 One-third of domestic violence perpetrators commit suicide after committing homicide.
Effects on Children and Teens
Domestic violence affects not only the victims, but also their friends, neighbors, and families—particularly their children. Every year, around 80 Utah children are present at the scene of either the murder or attempted murder of their mothers. 14 Domestic violence committed in the presence of a child is considered to be child abuse in Utah, 15 as it has significant long-term negative effects (e.g., physical, emotional, and behavioral) on the child. In fact, a 2006 Utah study found that adult victims of domestic violence are considerably more likely than non-victims to have witnessed domestic violence as a child (34%) or to have been abused by their parents (36%).
The Costs of Domestic Violence
While there are no specific data related to the costs of domestic violence in Utah, the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control analyzed data from 1995 and reported that the estimated national costs were $5.8 billion each year, which included only the cost of direct medical and mental health services and some measure of lost productivity. According to a 2008 report from the Utah Department of Health,23 domestic abuse can greatly affect quality of life. For example, Utah women who have been victims of domestic violence report a significantly higher rate of dissatisfaction with life in general (9.6%) than women who have not been abused (2.3%). Further, they report not having the social and emotional support they need (30.2%
vs. 11.2%), having poorer health (50.8% vs. 36%), finding themselves limited in activities because of physical and emotional struggles (40% vs. 20.7%), and requiring the use of special equipment such as a wheelchair because of their health problems (13.1% vs. 4.4%).
Read the full Snapshot Domestic Violence Among Utah Women