OREM — Police arrested a Salem man for murdering his wife over the weekend. The alleged crime has domestic violence counselors trying to raise awareness about the issue and what can be done about it.
Statistics show one out of four women will be in an abusive relationship, and caseworkers say a lot of people don't realize how prevalent domestic violence is. But there are other challenges too: Family and friends can do everything to try and help, but their hands are tied if the victim isn't willing to end the abuse.
For relatives of Tracy Scott, the murder of his wife was sudden and unexpected. In a phone conversation with KSL News, Tracy Scott's brother told us never saw Tracy be physically violent. He said Tracy and his wife, Teresa Scott, seemed to have gotten along well, that their problems were not uncommon with that of other married couples.
Utah County is difficult because we have an underlying community culture that states 'families are forever, you should do everything you possibly can to keep this family relationship intact.'
–Jessica Dimas-Walsh, Center for Women & Children in Crisis
Jessica Dimas-Walsh isn't familiar with the Scott case, but works with domestic violence victims at a shelter in Orem. She said most victims don't talk about the abuse, so friends and family don't even know it's happening.
At The Center for Women and Children in Crisis, however, the beds are always full.
"Utah County is difficult because we have an underlying community culture that states ‘families are forever, you should do everything you possibly can to keep this family relationship intact,' " Dimas-Walsh said.
Court records show Teresa Scott once had a protective order against her husband. Officers had also been to the Scott home several times on violence-related calls, but not in the past three years.
Police say all abuse victims are referred to a victim's advocate, but it's unknown if Teresa Scott ever reached out for help.
Case workers say, on average, women will try to leave their abusive partner seven or eight times before they finally end it.
"It's complicated; and really, this woman is going to have to make the decision for herself that it's going to end," Dimas-Walsh said.
She said victims should call the domestic violence hotline and make a safety plan, but they should never tell their partner they're leaving.
"When you leave, your danger skyrockets," Dimas-Walsh said.
She said family and friends shouldn't shelter victims because of the potential risks. They can call the Division of Child and Family Services if children are witnessing domestic violence. By law, that would be considered child abuse.
Case workers say the children in the middle of these cases should get counseling.