Domestic violence can increase and intensify during the holidays, but help is available for Utahns

Dec 22, 2021, 10:15 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 10:00 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The holidays are a happy time for many, but they can also be stressful, and for some, even dangerous.

“There’s always a spike,” said Unified Police Department Sgt. Melody Cutler about reports of domestic violence. “It’s something that we definitely see go up.”

UPD and other departments have victim advocates available to respond on any day of the year.

“It occurs year-round, but we throw the stressors on which also could increase the violence,” said Cutler, referring to additional stress that can sometimes accompany the holiday season.

Experts say Utah is lacking when it comes to collecting uniform data on the prevalence of domestic violence in the state, but UPD provided KSL with numbers that show the holiday uptick they’ve come to expect. “It’s not like dramatic, but there’s definitely an increase there,” said Cutler.

The data highlights domestic violence-related cases during the last three years, looking at the six-week period leading up to the holidays compared to the six-week period covering Thanksgiving through New Year’s.

The numbers from the previous two years show a slight increase over the holidays.

In 2019, UPD noted 567 domestic violence cases before the holidays, and 576 during the holidays. In 2020, there were 597 cases leading up to the holidays, compared to 603 in the same amount of time over the holidays.

The data for this holiday season is incomplete but UPD reports 323 domestic violence cases between Nov. 20 and Dec. 22.

“That’s still significant,” said Cutler. “That’s additional people that are being harmed in their homes, or they’re being harmed again, and again and again, and that’s something that we would like to see stop.” Jennifer Campbell with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said it’s important to note that domestic violence is a problem in Utah every day of the year.

“It’s really hard to admit that this is a problem because we don’t want this,” she said. “Nobody wants this for families. No one wants a home to be unsafe.”

Campbell said every county in Utah has a domestic violence provider ready to help. “They are local nonprofits, they have crisis shelters, they have hotlines, they have services that are there 24 hours a day,” she said.

Utahns can always call local law enforcement for help or to report domestic violence by calling 911. Campbell says they can also call the organization’s 24-hour LINKLine at 800-897-LINK (5465) to get connected to local resources and help in their area.

The line is for anyone who has experienced or witnessed domestic violence or is concerned they might carry out violence to get help.

“It can be for someone who just wants to help our community to stop violence,” said Campbell. “We can connect them with their local providers and help them know ways that they can lend a hand.”

Both Cutler and Campbell said the goal is to connect Utahns with services as soon as possible before violence intensifies further or leads to domestic violence homicide.

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Domestic violence can increase and intensify during the holidays, but help is available for Utahns