Domestic violence haunts all parts of Utah. The most recent estimates and polls indicate that about one in three Utah women and one in four Utah men have experienced domestic violence. It’s a problem in Salt Lake City, smaller cities, and the state’s most rural areas.
Tiffany Walden hopes to be part of a change. The homebuilder and owner of Tiffany Homes moved from Florida to Utah several years ago and has evolved into a thought leader in the space of domestic violence. Working with the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition (UDVC) is just one example of how she’s actively pushing to make all parts of the state a better place for domestic violence victims.
Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse and can take many forms. Part of Walden’s push is to inform others of what they can do to spot and help victims sooner rather than later. If the general public becomes more aware, domestic violence numbers can decrease.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is any behavior intended to gain power and control over a partner or family member. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, or socioeconomic status. However, numbers show women are more vulnerable to domestic violence than men.
The Different Forms of Domestic Violence
Not all domestic violence victims go through the same experience. While physical abuse may be easy to spot, other forms of domestic violence are not initially apparent.
Hitting, slapping, pushing, choking, and other acts of violence that cause physical harm fall under physical abuse. It’s one of the most common types of domestic violence and easy to identify after an incident if a person has unusual marks on their body. Identifying and stopping physical abuse is extremely important because such abuse puts a person’s life in immediate danger.
Any non-consensual sexual activity (rape and sexual assault being the two most common) qualifies as sexual abuse. In the past, people hid this issue, but in the last few years, people, especially women, have felt more comfortable reporting sexual abuse.
Manipulating, belittling, or isolating someone, as well as other behaviors intended to undermine a person’s sense of self-worth and control, are forms of emotional abuse. This is one of the most challenging types of abuse to identify, but people going through it usually show sudden mood changes. Although such abuse might seem relatively innocent at first, it can escalate quickly and lead to other forms of abuse.
Threatening or intimidating someone, as well as other behaviors intended to control a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior fall under psychological abuse. While this might not seem as extreme as physical and sexual abuse, the damage can be just as severe. Victims start living in fear, not knowing if the abuse will escalate into something physical.
Controlling access to money and other resources, preventing a person from working, and other behaviors that limit a person’s financial independence are forms of financial abuse. This is a complex situation and difficult for some people to get out of if they’re unable to support themselves. They feel like they have no alternative, accepting the abuse even as it intensifies.
Spotting Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can be challenging to spot since it often happens discreetly. Abusers almost always know they are in the wrong, so they hide their actions from the public as much as they can. However, some signs can indicate that a person is experiencing domestic violence:
- Unexplainable physical injuries such as bruises, cuts, and broken bones
- Drastic changes in behavior such as becoming withdrawn, anxious, or depressed
- Attempts to hide injuries by wearing long sleeves or pants
- Changes in financial situation or living arrangement without any real explanation
What Can People Do When They See Domestic Violence?
If a person suspects that someone is experiencing domestic violence, Walden and other community leaders throughout Utah are hoping they will take action. It may seem challenging at first, but offering help can save a person from domestic violence — and can also make an abuser think twice about doing it to someone else in the future.
Listen and Believe in the Person
If someone wants to talk about experiencing domestic violence, listening to and believing them is essential. Let them know they are not alone and have your full support.
Offer to help the person find resources, such as a domestic violence shelter or hotline. If they feel intimidated about doing this independently, offer to accompany them to appointments or court hearings.
It takes a community to report domestic violence issues. If someone seems like they are in immediate danger, call 911. Report suspected abuse to local law enforcement or a domestic violence hotline.
When is the right time to report an issue? If a situation feels wrong, it’s worth speaking up. It’s not worth taking the chance that it’s not a big deal.
Be on the lookout for cries for help, even if they are incredibly subtle. Victims might try to make eye contact with someone or talk in code to try and get help without the abuser finding out.
How Tiffany Walden Is Fighting Against Domestic Violence
To help suppress domestic violence, people need to be willing to fight for the cause. Tiffany Walden, Utah, a long-time home builder in Eagle Mountain and the owner of Tiffany Homes, believes in her state’s future. To call Utah, and more specifically Eagle Mountain, home, she made lowering domestic violence numbers a priority.
Volunteering with the UDVC touches Walden personally. She enjoys helping women and children who are dealing with situations similar to those of her early years. Dealing with violence and abuse alone can make anyone feel helpless. She strives to offer support and inspiration to help people escape challenging situations.
Eagle Mountain’s population explosion has made the area much less rural than when Walden first moved west. However, just a short drive away from the city are smaller communities with fewer resources to fight against domestic violence. Walden knows the UDVC needs more volunteers and resources to help out in the state’s most remote areas. With more people learning how to help, domestic violence awareness continues to rise.