By Courtney Bergman | Staff Writer
The Utah Department of Health recently released a new survey outlining members of Utah’s population most at risk for experiencing domestic violence or IPV (intimate partner violence) and some of the unexpected consequences of those who are or become victims.
IPV is a sensitive topic that many times remains literally behind closed doors and oftentimes leaves the victim filled with shame and guilt. The survey outlined that while 18% of all women in Utah and 10% of all men have been victims of or subjected to incidents of domestic violence, a small percentage, less than 15%, ever seek interventions or help. Respondents of the survey indicated that fear of the perpetrator, fear of losing custody of children, or a belief that the abuse would stop, all contributed to their decision to not seek help. Survey results for Weber/Morgan counties indicated a somewhat lower percentage of individuals experiencing IPV than the state average, but still reported that 19% of the entire population disclosed experiencing domestic violence. However, the CDC warns that its data indicates the problem is more significant and common, reporting that nearly 27 percent of women in Utah, including Weber and Morgan counties, had experienced some form of partner physical abuse alone.
Not only does IPV result in immediate emotional, mental, or physical harm, but several other unexpected consequences were noted. Data indicated that those who are victims of IPV are significantly more likely to develop a daily smoking habit, become a binge drinker, or miss more days from work than their counterparts. Overall, victims of IPV are three times more likely to experience poor health when compared to those not exposed to IPV. Additionally, more individuals who experience IPV report encountering past stressful childhood experiences which contribute to their susceptibility to continue as victims of domestic violence and abuse. All of these correlations are compelling organizations throughout the state to recognize the drastic need of bringing domestic violence out from behind closed doors and begin offering more resources to provide help and support.
Receiving help does not necessarily require leaving a partner or involving the police. Several different services exist to simply offer support and provide any victim of IPV with counseling, a listening ear, or a plan. The Weber-Morgan Domestic Violence Coalition recommends that the best action any individual can take is to tell someone, whether it is a friend, a co-worker, the police, or making contact with a confidential abuse hotline. The Coalition also advocates having a safety plan that includes a packed bag, an escape route, a safe place to stay, or simply having a bank account in one’s own name so that monetary resources are available when needed.
Your Community Connection (YCC) serves Weber and Morgan and can provide resources and assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Individuals who are experiencing IPV or who are aware of someone in need of assistance are urged to contact YCC at (801) 394-9456. YCC also maintains a crisis line and is available to provide emergency services at (801) 392-7273. The Utah Domestic Violence Link Line is also accessible at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).