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Utah Domestic Violence Calls Spike Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Police and advocates have seen a spike in domestic violence related calls. While most people have stayed home for their own protection due to coronavirus concerns, officials said he reality is, for too many of our neighbors, home can be a  dangerous place.

Victims’ advocates said they’re trained and equipped to handle larger call volumes, and want survivors to know there is help.

“It’s an interesting dynamic in an abusive relationship,” said Jenn Oxborrow, executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. “Now we have people being required to stay at home and be more proximal to that abusive partner.”

Oxborrow said domestic abuse calls have spiked 50 to 60 percent. As social distancing measures add financial and emotional stressors, those numbers could continue to increase.

“I worry a lot about financial abuse, right now in particular, and technology abuse, where people might be stalking in a different sort of way,” she said.

Oxborrow said neighbors can play a critical role during the coronavirus pandemic, as they can help report abuse to authorities and encourage survivors to seek help.

“Pay attention. If something feels wrong to you, if someone feels controlling to you – either in your own situation or in the situation of a friend, a neighbor, a loved one – if you’ve lost access to them and they’ve become more isolated than usual – if it feels extreme, pay attention to that,” Oxborrow said.

In 2019, there were 32 domestic violence-related deaths in Utah, according to the Coalition. Less than three months into the year, 2020 was on pace to being deadlier, with 10 deaths, so far.

Oxborrow said professional counselors are available 24 hours a day, and outreach centers are staying open.

“We have a network of programs that can make referrals. We can help people get to safety. We can help them connect, however it makes sense,” she said.

Services are available to those on both sides of abusive relationships.

“We have resources for people who are using abuse and power and control and aggression, so if you’re feeling yourself ramp up, and you need some help and support, reach out to us,” Oxborrow said.

Officials with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said they have 65 crisis counselors available who can link victims to resources and even help them file a protective order on line.

To help alleviate tensions at home, Oxborrow recommended establishing a routine, taking walks, and time-outs in separate rooms when things get tense, to allow both partners, or parents and children, to cool off.

“We’re here and we care, so please reach out to us,” Oxborrow said.

Call the Utah Domestic Violence Hotline (Utah Link line) at 1-800-897-LINK for help and resources statewide.

Individuals can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Salt Lake City residents can reach out to the Salt Lake City Police Department’s 24-hour hotline directly, at 801-580-7969. All services are free, and callers can get information anonymously. 

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