homepage logo

Study: Domestic violence on rise among Utah women

By Genelle Pugmire - | Mar 1, 2023

Courtesy photo

Susan Madsen, director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project.

One in three Utah women will experience some form of contact sexual violence, physical violence or stalking in her lifetime, according to a newly released paper and 2023 update by the Utah Women & Leadership Project. The team’s research shows increases in many areas of domestic violence.

Data collected on male and female victims from 2017 to 2021 found that, on average, 30.2% of domestic violence was enacted by a boyfriend or girlfriend, 19.8% by a spouse (legal or common-law) or ex-spouse, and 17.9% by a parent.

“Domestic violence (DV) injuries include broken bones, loss of teeth, severe lacerations, possible internal injuries, unconsciousness, and others,” the team notes. “From 2017 to 2021, boyfriends/girlfriends were the victim group most likely to receive injuries involving unconsciousness (33.3%), broken bones (29.3%), severe laceration (26.2%), possible internal injury (19.4%) and other major injuries (28.8%).

LGBTIQ+ communities, women of color and individuals with disabilities experience domestic violence at higher rates.

White women experience sexual violence and DV at a lifetime rate of 34.0% while Asian women experience sexual violence and DV at lower rates (25.0%).

Hispanic/Latinx women experience DV at equivalent rates (34.0%); Black women and individuals who are two or more races experience DV at higher rates (40.0% and 50.0%, respectively); and Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander women and Native American women experience DV at dramatically higher rates (68.0% and 84.0%, respectively).

“It is noteworthy that 80.0% of abusers of Native women are non-Native people,” the research team wrote.

In general, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer people also experience violence at higher rates than other communities. Nationally, LGBTQ+ individuals are almost four times more likely to experience violence in all settings, six times more likely to be victims of violence within a close relationship while lesbian, bisexual and transgender women are five times more likely to experience violence than other women.

The team also found that, in Utah from 2009-2016, 22.7% of all homicides were related to domestic violence (54) or intimate partner violence (84). About half of the IPV incidents were murder-suicide cases. In total, the incidents resulted in 208 deaths: 69 DV and 139 IPV victims (42 were suicides and four were undetermined deaths). Of the IPV victims, 85.9% were female.

“The 2021 Utah Adolescent Health Report provides rates of dating violence in Utah’s middle/high schools. Girls’ reported rates of dating violence decreased slightly between 2017 (12.5%) and 2019 (10.9%) but rose again in 2021 (12.4%). Utah girls reported higher rates of experiencing dating violence than Utah boys (the average rate was 3.1% higher),” the report reads. “Compared to Utah women who have not been victimize, Utah women who have been victims of domestic violence are significantly more likely to have poor mental health days, miss work, have difficulty concentrating, binge drink, smoke every day, have difficulty doing errands alone, and have poor health.”

Anything other than a reduction in domestic violence rates constitutes a failure, the team concluded.

“We must do more to track domestic violence data, fund support services for victims, and develop laws that stop offenders and prevent violence,” they wrote.

The paper’s authors include: Christiana Wagstaff, victim advocate, Utah Valley University; Tatiana Leroy, research assistant, UWLP; Jessica C. Hill, director of Project-Based Learning, EID Fellow for Student Success, UVU; Cameron Hopkin, lecturer of Psychology, UVU; and Emily S. Darowski, associate director, UWLP.


Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)