Domestic Violence Continues to Take a Tragic Toll in Utah

Domestic violence takes a tragic toll in Utah every year, and 2009 was no exception. The first domestic violence related death occurred on January 4, 2009, when Brittany Nichols’ boyfriend, angered at her attempts to end their relationship, fatally stabbed Brittany multiple times, possibly in the presence of her three-year old daughter. By mid-year there were ten such deaths, and by year’s end there are twenty-seven. December was the deadliest month, when six deaths occurred, all the result of two murdersuicides. The loss of loved ones from domestic violence affects not only the victim and perpetrator but also children, extended families, neighborhoods, and communities. The age range for this year’s fatalities was four years to seventy. There are eleven female and sixteen male domestic violence related deaths, including two male children, ages four and six. Twelve of the deaths resulted from murder-suicides, and five occurred in dating violence relationships, indicating that violence between dating and intimate partners can escalate to fatality.

Total Domestic Violence Related Deaths in Utah 2009: 27 Number of domestic violence related deaths caused by the use of a firearm: 212

It is crucial to recognize that domestic violence occurs in all communities, and across all lines of income, ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age and disability. Risk factors should be recognized: physical violence increases in frequency and severity; threats with weapons or threats against life; attempted strangulation, controlling behaviors, forced sex, threats of suicide, violence against children or animals, and violence outside the home, among others. All are acts of domestic violence or related to it. They are real threats and should be reported.

According to Moises Prospero, Chair of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, “We need to address domestic violence at the individual, familial and community level through effective programming and public awareness.”

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