Document 4A: Testimony of Debra Daniels, Assistant Executive Director, YWCA, Salt Lake City, Utah, Hearing Before the Committee on the Judiciary, United States Senate, 103rd Congress, First Session on The Problems of Violence Against Women in Utah and Current Remedies, Salt Lake City, UT. Serial No. J-103-11.

Introduction

        Debra Daniels of the YWCA of Salt Lake City, discussed the need for remedies for domestic violence from the point of view of organizations that dealt daily with such violence. The Salt Lake City YWCA sheltered over 600 women and 1000 children each year who were victims of violence, and made between 3,000 and 5,000 annual crisis calls. The women served represented all racial, educational and socio-economic levels. In addressing the severity and urgency of the problem on a state level, Daniels also demonstrated the need for national action. (See also Document 4B, Daniels' prepared statement, and Document 4C, a letter from Julie Epperson, Coordinator of Children of Battered Women at the YWCA of Salt Lake City.)

STATEMENT OF DEBRA DANIELS

       Ms. DANIELS. OK. A lot of what's been said today I could say over, but I'm not going to do that. I'm going to not go over the statistics that we've heard over and over again this morning, but what I would like to do is talk about a few of my experiences in working with a shelter that sees over 600 women each year and probably a thousand children each year, that we take anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 crisis calls in a year at the time, and my experience with what has worked and what hasn't worked, where we've come from and where we're going. I think I've had almost 10 years in this position to have a good strong look at where we are in terms of looking at domestic violence, and when I first started working in the area of domestic violence, I would sit and I would talk to women who had experience of being frightened, being intimidated, being fearful and not having a lot of strong law recourse in terms of looking at what to do with those issues.

       Through our counseling we've worked to remedy some of that, but even in remedying those situations and having some laws enacted and working on those issues, I still see that we need to continue to work on education. I think that's one of our most critical links, and what I have heard is how important education is, and what I've heard is we need to be going into our junior high schools and high schools. I'm doing that today on a regular basis. I do anywhere from 10 to 25 hours of public education in a month's time.

       When I go to junior high schools and high schools, what I find is that's far too late. When I go to junior high schools and high schools, young men and young women have already established their attitudes about violence, their behavior in the relationship, they are going foward with some of those behaviors that are damaging to the family, damaging to our societies and communities, and we need to begin much earlier. I think if we don't begin to look at a program that begins to deal with the issues of domestic violence in first through third grade we will have lost the chance to look at true prevention. We will then be working on intervention again, and that's where we are at this point.

       I strongly believe that and cannot reiterate strongly enough. I have seen children come in with such blank and empty stares, with such hostile and angry attitudes toward mom, toward dad, toward the system. I've seen children come in who are totally hopeless, I've seen children stand on our second floor and say they want to jump out the window or slit their wrist because they have been in and out of our shelters so long that I can remember; one child who I saw at age 3 and now at age 10, I know his younger siblings on a first-name basis.

       When I see them in the community, they speak to me and I speak to them and we know one another, because what I see with this young man when he came in this last time was totally different attitude than when he was 4, when he was 6; and now that he is 10, he has adopted the same mentalities, the same behaviors, the same patterns, the same name calling, the same vicious cycle at age 10 has already been implemented in this young man's experience and in his mind. That's extremely frightening to me when I see a thousand of these children coming through our shelter.

       We are a larger facility, so we are seeing different kinds of problems in Salt Lake than in the rual areas, and as I look at my needs and say gosh, we need these things, and I look at their needs and certainly understand how they need some of the things that we have every bit as critical. Without question, funding is a real critical point for all the shelters throughout the State. We may have child care, we may have a shcool here, we may have nurses coming and we have quite a few things, and I look at other areas and they don't have those things, but I hear other shelters talk about times when they don't have women in their shelters. I have been working at this shelter for 7 years. There has never been one day when we did not have a family in our shelter, not one, not one 24-hour period where a woman did not need our services. We continue to see that increasing.

       I continue to see the need for education, law enforcement, educators, school teachers, medical personnel and personnel providing help for the women. I continue to see women feeling alienated by the system specifically designed to help them. What I hope we can do through this process and through our continued work and efforts is to work to educate all levels of society who are dealing with victims and design to deal with those as well as people who live next door to them so they know what are the proper resposes to address a woman's needs and issues and concerns. I know that I am out of time, but I am more than willing to entertain any questions asked me. Thank You.

       [The prepared statement of Ms. Daniels follows:]

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