Survey results show what Utahns think and know about domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment

Feb 1, 2024, 7:12 PM | Updated: Feb 2, 2024, 7:00 am

FILE: Utah State University...

FILE: Utah State University

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Women & Leadership Project surveyed men and women statewide to gather data on their perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs surrounding issues that especially impact women.

The survey results are being used to establish a baseline that the UWLP will use to develop public policies, training, and goals for the initiative, A Bolder Way Forward. The goal is to collect data and take actions that will help women and girls thrive.

“There’s a shortage of data in most of the areas that we’re focusing on,” said Susan Madsen, the founding director of the UWLP at Utah State University.

“Next year, we’ll actually do the same study … and the next year for seven years to see, at least, are we shifting perceptions and awareness?” she said.

The survey asked more than 3,500 people who were 18 years and older across Utah 80 questions. Participants scored each statement on a scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree.

“We asked, I trust that most organizations in Utah would appropriately handle a sexual harassment report,” Madsen said. “Most people at least somewhat disagreed with that.”

Madsen said it’s not realistic to ask women to report instances of harassment if the majority of people don’t believe it will be handled correctly.

“People are like, we’re not sure we even believe that we can trust that something right will happen,” she said.

On the topic of domestic violence, survey results showed just 25.6 % of participants firmly agreed it’s a problem in Utah. Madsen said people in Utah shy away from the topic.

“It is interesting how we distance, and we have for years in this state, we’re uncomfortable to talk about these issues,” she said.

Study reveals only 25% of Utahns believe domestic violence is a problem, here’s what else it found

Madsen said that if people don’t know the reality of how serious issues like domestic violence are in Utah, they can’t do much to help fix the problems.

“If people really don’t think it’s a problem or much of a problem, then you don’t learn for yourself, but also so you can’t help others,” she said.

It doesn’t only hurt women.

“When women and girls are suffering, or don’t have the opportunities, it impacts our families, and that means it impacts boys and men,” Madsen said.

Madsen said while we may see more women in leadership roles, they’re still facing high rates of mistreatment.

“I do receive emails every week from women who tell me stories about the violence, and about being turned down over and over for support to start businesses … when their male counterparts easily got venture capital,” she said.

They will repeat the survey next year to see what progress has been made, and what needs more attention.

“If we keep doing what we’re doing, even with all the pieces and parts, it’s going to take us three to four decades to make any notable progress on any of these areas,” Madsen said.”I want a better Utah for my granddaughters and, for my daughter, and for my grandsons and sons too.

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Survey results show what Utahns think and know about domestic violence, sexual assault and harassment