Domestic violence is a scourge. It takes advantage of vulnerable women and children, mostly. Sometimes men are victims, of course, but few times is there a power imbalance such that a man fears violence from a woman.
And that is the crux of domestic violence — fear and power.
Nearly 18 percent of women in Utah experience physical domestic violence — physical abuse including hitting, kicking or choking. Yet less than 15 percent of those women seek help after being abused. Such a statistic raises questions about the accuracy of the 20 percent reporting rate. It is likely that women who have been abused do not disclose such abuse, even on anonymous questionnaires.
Domestic-violence-related deaths account for approximately 30 percent of murders across the nation.
In Utah, it’s 44 percent.
A national survey of Utah women between 2010 and 2012 found that one-third of women experience partner violence, including nonphysical aggression such as stalking. That report found that 27 percent of Utah women, as compared with the 18 percent the Utah study found, have experienced physical domestic violence.
In other words, the number of women affected by domestic violence is hard to pinpoint, but it’s a lot. Too much.
Those who have experienced physical abuse are three times more likely to be everyday smokers and twice as likely to have a binge drinking problem. They are also three times more likely to report overall poor health.
But recent polling suggests that victims suffer more than just the violence of domestic abuse. Another reason domestic violence is so damning is economics.
And we’re not talking about the future career prospects of the abuser.
The Utah Department of Health recently released data from a poll of 10,000 men and women in 2016. The data show that victims are 22 percent more likely to miss more than a week of work. That translates into lost wages and lost productivity.
The department hopes releasing the data inspires additional resources to combat the problem, including increasing how often we talk about the problem and how truly prevalent it is.
The issue is so important that public figures have started talking out against it, including BYU football coach Kalani Sitake. Sitake spoke last month with his father at an annual Kommitment Against Violence Altogether (KAVA) Talks dinner, a group founded to prevent abuse and domestic violence in the Pacific Islander community.
The more Utah leaders start talking about ending domestic violence, the better off Utahns will be. Our vulnerable populations can’t take the bodily harm, and Utah can't take the economic disruption, that domestic violence causes.