SANDY, Utah – October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and several police departments in the Salt Lake Valley are hosting events to recognize the growing issue.
Sandy police has received 296 reports of domestic violence assaults so far this year, and a total of 820 domestic abuse incidents – that’s up 77 from 2014.
West Valley City police say the national statistics are even more staggering.
“It’s estimated, through research, that there are, at any given minute, 24 acts of domestic violence that occur in our country. Twenty-four acts doesn’t sound like a lot - but a minute - when you add that up, we’re talking about a million people a month in this country become victimized by domestic violence,” said Chief Lee Russo with the West Valley City Police Department.
Sandy City officials are trying to raise awareness about the growing problem in the state.
“It’s always sad for us to believe that domestic violence happens in our own communities, but it does,” said Mayor Tom Dolan of Sandy City. “We see examples of that throughout our community over the years, and still, we work hard and diligently to support those that are being abused and the children of those that are being abused.”
Police say children are often the most vulnerable victims.
“Domestic violence is a crime that teaches,” Russo said. “So if there’s a child in the household, if there’s a child that witnesses it, they’re more likely to normalize it. They’re more likely to become a criminal offender, they’re more likely - if they’re male - to become an abuser, themselves. And more likely - if they’re female - to become abused.”
On Tuesday, the police department released 296 balloons into the sky - representing the number of domestic violence victims in Sandy. The West Valley City Police Department is training its officers to better recognize the signs of spousal abuse before it’s too late.
“We want to create a mechanism that one: recognizes it, two: measures it, and three: gives a victim a toolset to work with, and gives them information and a strategy of how to exit that type of relationship,” Russo said.
Anyone looking for more information or resources about domestic violence can get confidential 24-hour support by calling 800-897-5465.