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Front Page » October 24, 2002 » Local News » Domestic Violence Plagues Utah, U.S.
Published 4,440 days ago

Domestic Violence Plagues Utah, U.S.


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By KAREN BASSO
Staff writer

Domestic violence is a mounting problem which plagues nearly six million Americans annually. Utah is no exception. In fact, it is estimated that 60,000 women in Utah are assaulted by a partner each year.

Although it is more common for abuse to occur to women, men are also victims of the related crimes. It is estimated that 57,000 Utah mates are assaulted by partner annually. The figure includes male and female victims.

There are several different forms of abuse, including physical, emotional and sexual. However, the abuse tends to occur between partners, married and non-married.

Physical abuse usually consists of the pushing, slapping, punching, kicking, the use of a weapon and the use of any type of force which causes pain or injury to the victim.

Physical abuse can not only hurt or harm the victim, but death can occur in many cases. In fact, the United States Justice Department estimates that 4,000 abuse cases end in death each year in America.

Battering is the major cause of injury to women. Injury from battery incidents happens more frequently than automobile accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

Emotional abuse can also be devastating to victims. Signs of emotional abuse include:

•Threats of harm to his or her partner or to the partner's family members, friends, pet or possessions.

•Deprivation of money, sleep or affection.

•Harassment at work or at home.

•Insults or other verbal abuse.

•Any pattern of behavior that causes emotional pain.

According to the Utah Division of Family Services, 34 percent of women residing across the state have experienced emotional abuse within the last year.

The final form of domestic abuse is sexual. This type includes sexual mistreatment as well as rape and is not uncommon in abusive relationships.

Although partner abuse is fairly common, there is no single reason why related situations occur so frequently.

Several factors that may play a part in the abuse include outdated sexual roles and stereotypes, according to state and federal agencies.

Abusers may believe that men should be aggressive and violent, while women should remain passive and defenseless.

Therefore, state and federal officials indicate that domestic violence perpetrators may feel that they should act according to the stereotypes.

Poor parenting and communication skills may also be a factor in abusive relationships.

The abuser may try to solve problems with violence because they don't know how to solve these problems by talking.

Often times, the perpetrators of domestic violence acts have experienced some sort of abuse when they were a child.

Because abuse occurred in the perpetrators' childhood, abusers may associate violence with love. The dysfunctional connection between violence and love may be made during adult relationships.

The lack of public knowledge may also lead to abusive relationships.

Too few people know the extent and seriousness of partner abuse. Many people still feel domestic violence occurrences are private problems, situations that do not need and should not be reported.

Finally, society tends to promote violence. Although the actions are not directly condoned, it is common to see and hear about acts of violence on television and radio.

Violence is also glorified and violent characters are held up as heroes in many movies.

Although there is no such thing as a typical abuser, research has found that many share common characteristics which include the following:

•Poor self-image which leads the abusers to feel they are unable to control their own lives.

•Feel a need for control.

For some abusers, violence becomes a way to gain power over a partner.

•Witnessed abuse as a child or were abused themselves. Abusers view violence as a natural part of family life.

•Alcohol or drug abuse. The addictive habits may be used as an excuse or it may reduce a person's self-control.

•Don't communicate well and have trouble expressing feelings.

•Jealousy which often arises from low self-esteem.

Partner abuse usually occurs in a three stage cycle.

First, the tension builds in the relationship. This is when minor conflicts occur and the abuser gets upset over something small and threatens to hurt their partner.

The second stage is a major violent episode, which may be triggered by a minor quarrel. Once an attack starts, there's usually little the victim can do to stop it. Apologizing or reasoning with the abuser seldom works.

Finally, the abuser will have a period of remorse. The perpetrator feels ashamed and guilty and will often promise that abuse will never happen again.

The abusers will then be on their best behavior for a period of time, but sooner or later, the domestic violence cycle will start again.

No one consciously wants to be abused. However, many victims feel trapped in an abusive relationship and find it difficult to leave.

In fact, some domestic violence victims assume responsibility for the abuse. But abuse is never the victim's fault, emphasize state and federal officials.

Some common reasons why victims do not leave abusive relationships include:

•A fear of additional, more severe violence.

Often, an attempt to leave the relationship will result in more violent attacks upon the victim.

•Financial dependence on the partner can make it difficult to for a victim to leave an abusive relationship.

This is especially true if there are children involved.

•A low sense of self-worth. Repeated abuse can chip away at a victim's self-esteem. The resulting situation may prevent the victim from making a change.

•False hope.

Abused partners usually love their mates. Domestic violence victims want to believe that the abusers' promises to change will occur.

•Religious or cultural beliefs.

The beliefs may lead a victim to thing that their first priority is to keep the family together.

•Isolation. As an abuser's control increases, the victim may become cut off from friends and family.

Men who are abused also have a difficult time leaving the relationship, but for several different reasons.

•Men have fewer resources available for help.

Because few people recognize the problem, few organizations are prepared to help.

Despite this fact, men should seek help.

•Men are not thought of as victims.

Many people mistakenly believe that it is impossible for a man to be abused physically.

Male victims may also feel that emotional abuse is not really abuse.

•Men are less willing to report abuse.

Male domestic violence victims may feel ashamed, embarrassed or unmanly if they admit to being abused or ask for help.

In order to alleviate domestic abuse, families should work together as well as with the community to stop the cycle of violence from occurring.

At home, parents should set a non-abusive example for their children.

Adults residing in the household should teach youngsters through their actions that violence and abuse are not part of family life.

A no violence rule should also be applied in the home. Parents should teach children that physical violence or abuse is never a solution to any problem.

Differences should be resolved by open discussions between the family members. Clear communication can solve many problems. Talking things out isn't always easy, but the results are worth the effort.

Carbon County residents can also promote safe relationships by reporting all cases of suspected abuse to local law enforcement agencies. Reporting domestic violence incidence to law enforcement authorities can prevent serious injury and encourage the couple to get help.

The best way local residents can work against violence is to not accept it. By promoting a non-violent attitude, the community can become a safer place.

Victims of abuse should make a safety plan which would allow them to leave the situation when the time is right. By planning ahead, the victim may be able to leave the situation safely. Begin this plan by deciding a safe place to go and how to get there.

Victims should also gather the following items and store them with someone they trust.

•Money.

•Clothes.

•An extra set of house and car keys.

•Needed medications.

•Important papers such as birth certificates and medical records.

•Important telephone numbers.

For victims that have left an abusive relationship, the following safety tips may prevent the abuser from locating them.

•Change the phone number and address and make sure that everyone who has this information will not give it out to anyone.

•Consider changing social security numbers which will make it more difficult for the abuser to find their victim.

•Vary routines such as using shopping at different stores and use several routes to work.

Many times it is difficult to leave an abusive relationship and seek help. In Carbon County however, a women's shelter is in place and offers a safe home for abuse victims. The shelter may be reached at 637-6589 and victims will be assisted in ending the cycle of abuse.

Victims of domestic violence and abuse in the Castle Valley area may also contact the local hotline at 800-897-5465.

The hotline will provide domestic violence victims with counseling options, the names of health clinics, local shelter locations and vital information to aid residents in finding an escape route from abuse.


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