Advocates ask lawmakers to increase funding for domestic violence prevention, services
SALT LAKE CITY — Advocates and survivors of domestic violence were at the State Capitol Tuesday to discuss the need for funding and resources and how to work with legislators to curb the trend of violence in the state.
Jennifer Campbell of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition said the demand for services for survivors is up across the state. There is not enough money coming in to support the one-in-three women in Utah who have experienced intimate partner violence.
“I always think of driving down my street and looking at houses and I would count—1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3—and I would think this is the impact violence is having in our state right now,” said Jennifer Campbell, executive director of the coalition.
“We know people right now who are experiencing this. Whether they’ve told us or not, they are. And so, we need to make sure we have a supportive network of response to help them when they’re ready to come forward.”
One of the things advocates have requested from lawmakers at this session is more than $4 million in state funds to support the 15 nonprofit licensed domestic violence service providers in Utah.
Right now, most of their money comes from fundraising which isn’t always reliable. The pandemic has made it more difficult to raise funds.
In a meeting on Capitol Hill Tuesday, advocates and survivors gathered to discuss how they can work with legislators to get support for domestic violence services and programs.
“You’ve heard the commitment of our providers. You’ve heard the challenges that they’re facing, and you’ve heard the impact they’re making in our state,” Campbell told the group. “That is the work that needs to happen every day.”
Advocates also support bills like House Bill 117 which would create an address confidentiality program to help protect survivors. Right now, the coalition says Utah is one of the only states in the country that doesn’t have the program.
The Domestic Violence Coalition points to data from the state that shows 42% of all adult homicides In Utah are domestic violence-related and about 80 children witness their mother killed or nearly killed or find her murdered every year.
The coalition has also been instrumental in bringing the lethality assessment program to law enforcement departments across the state. The program includes a series of questions for responding officers to ask victims when responding to incidents, in order to assess their risk of death.
Duchesne County Sheriff Travis Tucker said it has made a huge difference in his office.
“I have seen many cases where officers and victims, after doing the lethality assessment program on scene, were surprised and scared because of the high lethality score. It changed their response,” he said.
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