Domestic violence – a problem kept in the darkOct 08, 2021 12:20PM ● By Becky Ginos
Purple flags with the names of domestic violence victims or survivors fill a planter box at Station Park for Domestic Violence Awareness month. Safe Harbor Crisis Center is participating in several events throughout October. Photo by Becky Ginos
FARMINGTON—The pandemic changed a lot of things from masks and social distancing to working from home. It also increased the incidence of domestic violence. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and events are being held throughout the state to bring attention to this ever growing problem.
“We need to bring a spotlight on the issue that we have in our county,” said Glady Larsen, Director of Development for Safe Harbor Crisis Center. “With COVID-19 we’ve experienced a decreased capacity. Normally we have 31 beds to offer, now we only have 11 rooms. It’s difficult to think of the amount of people we couldn’t help.”
When a person is in a very traumatic state to ask for help takes a lot of courage, she said. “To request help is difficult. When they’ve gotten to that point the last thing we want is to explain to them they need to go someplace else and ask for help again.”
If they are coming to the shelter they are in an emergency situation or crisis, Larsen said. “We need to have a facility with the capacity in our county to help immediately or awareness to prevent it before it becomes an emergency.”
Larsen said they still give them resources. “We connect them with someone who can help or potentially pay for them to go to a safe location. We also work with our sister agencies to get them help. We make sure they have a safe place to go so they’re not stranded.”
A new prevention center near the Layton Hospital is under construction and will be completed in March. “It will have a therapy team and information on prevention and that is where community presentations will be held,” she said. “Our new shelter will be finished in 2023 and adjacent to our current shelter.”
It was built in 1997 so different updates are needed, Larsen said. “We want a location where clients feel safe and it’s pleasant to be in when they’re going through something so traumatic.”
Isolation techniques are the things mainly used in domestic violence situations, she said. “The pandemic is a perfect scenario for people to be isolated. A lot of us are still working from home and that can be used as an excuse not to leave.”
If there’s an altercation no one notices or they don’t know a dangerous situation is developing, said Larsen. “They’re not seeing coworkers on a daily basis who might notice they’re acting a little differently or have bruises or accidents that are unexplained. It's harder to identify. If they're not seeing anyone at all they don’t know the violence is escalating and increasing in intensity and lethality.”
Larsen said one in three women and one in five men will experience intimate partner violence in their lives. “That’s what we’re seeing now in the state. We’ve sometimes noticed that as a state that values families the word domestic means private. People are seeing it but looking away or they don’t really know what it is.”
It might be a lack of education or privacy, she said. “It’s a problem kept in the dark. When we do get to talk to someone who is experiencing domestic violence it could be an emergency situation where before we might have taken a toxic relationship and turned it into a healthy one.”
It’s important for the community to know ways to support survivors of domestic violence, she said. “Listen, lend a hand and be there when the person’s ready to talk. They need to know they can be believed. To talk about it is so difficult because it’s intimate and it’s hard to ask for help.”
Listening is vital, said Larsen. “It could be the first step for a survivor of domestic violence to recover and potentially leave a lethal situation.”
As part of awareness events Safe Harbor has placed flags with the names of people they have helped around the fountain at Station Park. They are also taking part in the Stop the Violence Utah Fundraiser with ticket sales to the Grizzlies game on Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. Safe Harbor will also be holding its annual Evergreens benefit on Nov. 11 at the Davis Conference Center where the proceeds will go to support the crisis center.