Document 4B: Prepared Statement of Debra Daniels, Assistant Executive Director, YWCA, Salt Lake City, Utah, Senate Hearing 103-726, 13 April 1993. 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.
PREPARED STATEMENT OF DEBRA S. DANIELS
At the YWCA of Salt Lake City approximately 600 women and 1,000 children are sheltered annually. Women served represent all racial, ethnic, religious, educational, occupational and socio-economic levels. Women most of often served at the YWCA are white, married with three or more children fathered by their husbands, high school graduates, LDS background (active or inactive), age 27 years old, victims of emotional, psychological abuse prior to marriage and victims of physical and sexual abuse throughout her ten-year marriage.
Middlle-income women tend to use services primarily through phone contact, walk-in appointments and support groups. They typically want to hide the abuse, preserve the marriage relationship and to portray a harmonious social, religious and familial status. These women are served through approximately 3,000 to 4,000 crisis calls annually.
In addition to providing basic needs, information and referral, education/counseling about domestic violence, services to children, the YWCA must address multiple secondary problems:
1. Substance abuse.
2. Mental illness.
3. Chronic health Problems.
5. Psychological disturbance.
6. Child abuse/neglect by one or both parents.
7. Lack of medical Care.
In order to address the above issues, the YWCA utilizes resources throughout the community: legal aid, hospital and community health centers, social services agencies, substance abuse treatment programs, housing programs and mental health services.
UNMET NEED/CURRENT CONCERNS
All services designed to protect women from domestic violence need to be working together to coordinate legal, housing, law enforcement, health care and shelter services. Often persons in "helping" agencies and organizations are uniformed, hostile and unhelpful, further discouraging an already fragile woman from seeking intervention. Even in 1993, the message prevails that domestic vilolence is a "family problem" and not a crime. In Utah law and protocol around dealing with domestice violence are adequate; however, consistent enforcement of law is inadequate. Failure of full comprehension of the problem and failure of systems to work supportively together result in the following:
1. Women not leaving the abusive relationships.
2. Women not prosecuting their abusers.
3. Women not being able to properly parent or displine their children; hence, the continuation of the cycle of violence.
4. Women believing that the abuse is justified.
5. Validation of the abusers' threats that there are no protections and that the victims are to blame.
6. Higher health care costs, absenteeism from schools and the work force, acceptance by children of violent peer relationships.
7. Death of victims.
8. Inadequate funding to domestic violence services.
9. Perpetuation of unhealthy relationships and the furthur institutionalization of violence as an acceptable means for families resolving conflict.
10. Reinforcement of the belief that women and children don't have rights.
- 1. Treatment for women, children and perpetrators to deal with the long-term ramifications of domestic violence.
- 2. Continued funding for shelter, treatment, legal aid for victims of domestic violence.
- 3. Establishment of a funding base for treatment for children who are living or have lived in violent families.
- 4. Education on all levels of society, including key target groups: judges, law enforcement agencies (officers, chiefs, dispatch officers, support staff, ect.), hospital staff, religious leaders, teachers.
- 5. Stricter penalties (to possibly include actual jail time, longer sentences) for perpetrators who re-offend, stalk or harass a victim.
PROGRESS TO DATE
The statewide Domestic Violence Advisory Council has taken the lead in education, legislation and advocacy in the area of domestic violence. Accomplishments in the state of Utah include:
1. Successful legislation in 1990 which increased legal protection of victims, provided funding for perpetrator treatment and established policy for law enforcement.
2. Establishment of Salt Lake County domestic violence council to focus on needs of larger urban areas.
3. Increased funding base for domestic violence programs, including specific funding for children's needs ( i.e., the legislature created a Children's Trust Account to provide a means to implement child abuse and neglect prevention programs (section 62A-4-409) statewide).
4. Increase in number of shelters and safe houses throughout the state since 1976.
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