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More Funds Given For Domestic Violence Programs As Calls Increase During Pandemic

WEST JORDAN, Utah –  Domestic violence calls have increased significantly during the pandemic, according to Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson, who announced additional funding for two programs that help victims on Wednesday.

Rebecca Thomas probably never thought she would do any public speaking. 

Then again, she probably never thought she would feel like she had to. 

Rebecca Thomas shares her story surviving domestic abuse at a news conference announcing new money for services.

“I am a domestic violence survivor,” said Thomas during a news conference in front of West Jordan City Hall Wednesday afternoon. 

Two years ago, Thomas said she was abused and assaulted several times. 

“Every single night, I needed to worry if I was going to be abused again,” she said. 

The experience left her homeless, where she said she endured more abuse. 

“I started substance abuse and I started having mental health issues. I didn’t know how to deal with it,” said Thomas. 

However, now she’s doing much better. She even has her own place. 

Thomas said it’s because she took that scary first step to ask for help, and she’s encouraging those who face abuse to get help as well. 

“I’m thankful and grateful to South Valley Services and also the YWCA, which I worked with,” she said. 

Those two programs were both given an extra $250,000 by Salt Lake County to help with housing, staffing, programs and anything else they need to turn victims into survivors. 

“We were asked how we need help, and we desperately needed it with everything we’re facing from survivors,” said Jennifer Campbell, executive director of South Valley Services. “We know that we need to first recognize that violence is happening and that it’s happening in all of our communities.”

Since the pandemic began, and with more people working from home or who have lost their job, Wilson said calls to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition have increased 25%. 

She also said domestic violence calls to emergency dispatchers are up 30%. 

The extra money will go to making sure there’s extra help for those who ask for it. 

“It will help these organizations mitigate the tragedy of domestic violence during COVID-19,” said Wilson. 

For victims of domestic violence, it all starts with that first call or visit for help. 

Thomas knows it can be scary. 

“If I can do it, anybody can do it,” she said. “But it’s so important to get out of that.” 

A good part of the money goes toward housing, so victims have a safe place to go and get away from their abuser. 

“We can be there every step of the way to help a survivor attain safety and long-term stability for themselves and their family,” said Liz Watson, who works with the YWCA’s Salt Lake Area Family Justice Center. 

The YWCA Family Justice Center is located at 310 East, 300 South in Salt Lake City. Their 24-hour crisis line is 801-537-8600 or toll-free at 855-992-2752.

 South Valley Services is located at West Jordan City Hall and Riverton City Hall. They can be reached at 801-255-1095.

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