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Salt Lake County District Attorney shares startling domestic violence statistics

Posted at 9:45 PM, Oct 16, 2023

SALT LAKE CITY — Rows of thousands of purple flags fill the strip of grass in front of the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, representing men and women who are survivors of domestic violence.

District Attorney Sim Gill said his office has filed more than 16,000 charges against domestic violence offenders since 2016 and has screened more than 4,000 domestic violence cases in the last year.

At a press conference Monday night, community leaders emphasized that there is help out there; YWCA Utah has services available 24/7, from a crisis shelter to a phone line and a drop-in child care center.

However, Gill believes Utah needs to do better to support victims, proposing the state legislature create a universal protocol for law enforcement to follow when they’re called to a domestic violence situation, so police would have to file a "domestic assault risk assessment" for the offender.

“We must invest in education, we must invest in social services, we must invest in physical health services, which are often not given to communities of color and poverty,” he said. “And that is our failure, and when we fail in that, we expect a call to action the seeds of violence that we have to then respond to, and we can and must do better.”

One survivor, Lisa Rae Zaragoza, believes a lot of people don’t recognize what violent relationships can look like.

“I’ve come a long ways the last two years,” she said. “The first year was rough, but I made it through it and I pushed through it. I made a lot of goals: getting my own place, doing what I need to, and I've come a long ways and I'm going to fight keep fighting.”

One in three women are victims of domestic violence, and although men represent about 15 percent of cases, their numbers are underreported, according to the CDC.

When people ask "What is domestic violence?," YWCA chief program officer Sandra Stokes says it’s about power and control; it can be physical, psychological, verbal or financial abuse. Being able to recognize the signs — visible marks like bruises, or unexplained withdrawal — can save someone’s life.

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Domestic violence victim resources (free, 24/7, confidential):

  • Utah Domestic Violence Coalition:
    • Hotline: 1-800-897-LINK (5465)
    • Online help: udvc.org
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately.