Proactive Approach Could Reduce Utah’s Horrific Domestic Violence Levels
Across the nation, one in four women and one in seven men over the age of 18 will experience physical violence in their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Utah, the level of domestic violence is higher than the national average. A study from the Utah Department of Health found that about 32% of all homicides in the state were related to domestic violence. That’s nearly one in three murders. On average, there’s a domestic violence-related murder every 33 days in Utah, and approximately three domestic violence-related suicides every month.
“It’s happening far too frequently,” Utah Domestic Violence Coalition’s executive director Jenn Oxborrow told KSTU-FOX 13.
However, the Lethality Assessment Protocol could change that.
The new system is a proactive approach being adopted by nonprofit groups around the state that essentially gets crisis centers and police departments on the same page. Developed in Maryland, the Lethality Assessment Protocol would allow police officers to determine the severity of a domestic violence incident using an 11-question screening process. If the victim’s answers indicate a high level of homicide risk, the office can then take the necessary steps to bring them to safety, such as getting them to an emergency shelter.
“It’s this great tool,” said Cindy Baldwin, executive director of the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center in Cedar City. “We are confident that it works because it’s working in 33 other states.”
Utah has allocated $700,000 in one-time funding for the program, but that’s only enough to get it started.
“Our state money for domestic violence services and sexual assault services is very, very slim,” said Oxborrow. “Compared to other states, we are on the bottom of the ranking.”
If the program is to be brought to full scale, non-profits will need to request more money from the state.
“There is a solution to drive down rates of domestic violence homicide, suicide in Utah,” said Oxborrow, “but we need some ongoing support.”