Domestic violence is one of the most common crimes in the United States. Each year, 1.5 million women in the United States are physically assaulted by an intimate partner, and 10 million children will observe intimate partner violence in their families . Utah Code defines domestic violence as “…any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm, when committed by one cohabitant against another.” Further, Utah Code requires health care professionals to identify victims of domestic violence, and to intervene on their behalf .
In Utah, domestic violence is one of most rapidly escalating violent crimes. The Utah Department of Health’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program (VIPP) estimates that each year, 40,000 Utah women are physically abused by an intimate partner and 194,000 women experience emotional abuse . Further, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS) stated that in 2005, 4,678 allegations of domestic violence were reported. It is estimated, that 1 in 5 Utah children will hear or witness verbal abuse, and 1 in 14 children will hear or witness physical abuse. In 2005, DCFS reported that 2,686 women (45%), 3,173 children (54%), and 32 men (1%) utilized domestic violence shelters in Utah (Figure 1) .
Psychological and physical consequences of domestic violence can be extremely damaging and potentially life threatening to its victims. In 2000, the Utah Intimate Partner Violence Death Review Team (IPVDRT) found that in Utah from 1994-1999, 49% of female victims of homicide were murdered by their male intimate partner. This percentage is higher than the national average of 39% (Figure 2) .
The Physical and Psychological Consequences of Domestic Violence
Although, a vast number of domestic violence incidents do not result in death, the victims of such violence may have physical injuries such as lacerations, broken bones, bruises and internal bleeding. Various other physical ailments may include: gastrointestinal problems, gynecological issues, headaches, central nervous system disorders, and circulatory or heart problems . Women who are subject to domestic violence often experience serve psychological consequences such as depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, low self-esteem, severe fear of intimacy, and an inability to trust men . In a 2005 Dan Jones & Associates study, it was reported that one in ten Utah women have considered harming themselves, and one in seventeen women have attempted suicide due to their experiences with domestic violence .
If you suspect domestic violence, contact the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line at 1-800-897-LINK (5465), or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. If immediate help is needed dial 9-1-1 or your local law enforcement agency.
- Utah Department of Health. Violence & Injury Prevention Program. Domestic Violence. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/vipp/domesticViolence/overview.html. Accessed September 15, 2006.
- Utah Code/Constitution. Available online at http://www.livepublish.le.state.ut.us/lpBin22/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-j.htm&2.0. Accessed September 20, 2006.
- Utah’s Department of Human Services Child and Family Services Annual Report 2005.Available online at http://www.hsdcfs.utah.gov/pdf/AnnualReport05.pdf. Accessed September 20, 2006.
- Utah Department of Health: Violence & Injury Prevention Program: Domestic Violence Homicides. Available online at http://health.utah.gov/vipp/domesticViolence/homicide.html. Accessed September 15, 2006.
- National Center for PTSD: Factsheet. Available online at http://www.ncptsd.va.gov/facts/specific/fs_domestic_violence.html#Anchor-Harway-46919. Accessed September 16, 2006.
- National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Intimate Partner Violence: Fact Sheet. Available online at http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/ipvfacts.htm. Accessed September 16, 2006.
- Dan Jones & Associates. Domestic Violence: Incidence and Prevalence Study 2005. Available Online at http://www.udvc.org/2005DanJonesExecutiveSummary.pdf. Accessed September 10, 2006.