Domestic violence behind many of Utah’s 2012 homicides

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SALT LAKE CITY — The faces of Utah’s 2012 homicide victims are haunting.

Perhaps the most jarring statistic is that half of the more than three dozen killings in Utah last year stemmed from domestic incidents.

The number of domestic violence deaths has reached an “epidemic proportion,” according to the Utah Domestic Violence Council, even though it says such deaths are among the “most predictable and therefore preventable forms of homicide.”

“These horrific crimes affect innocent children, families, and church families as well as entire communities,” its website states.

Peg Coleman, the council’s executive director, said she is seeing more and more violence and hearing “awful stories of desperation.”

“It’s not talked about. It’s seen as more of a family matter and that … keeps people experiencing it in shame. We want to change that and show it’s never OK,” she said.

“Utah’s very foundation is based on supporting and sustaining families. This next year we can all work together to make Utah the safest state in the nation for children and families. I’m hoping we can work together to make that our goal.”

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Note: Some of the cases reported in this article as domestic violence would not be classified that way in Colorado, where domestic violence is defined as a pattern of behavior in which one person attempts to control another through threats or actual use of physical, verbal, or psychological violence or sexual assault on their current or past intimate partner. 

In its legal definition:

  • Domestic violence means an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.
  • Domestic violence also includes any other crime against a person or against property or any municipal ordinance violation against a person or against property, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.

Intimate relationship means a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.