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Mike Anderson, KSL TV

1 in 14 Utah children witness physical domestic abuse

By Mike Anderson | Posted - Jun 10th, 2014 @ 9:19pm

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LAYTON — The brutal stabbing death of Kaylynn Spackman shocked nearby families and neighbors who knew her and her estranged husband, Joe Castillo.

However, those who work with victims of domestic abuse say children who witness it often suffer just as much as their parents, if not more.

"They equate that it's them themselves that caused it," said Bonnie Peters, executive director of The Family Support Center in Taylorsville. "This makes a tremendous impact on children."

According to statistics gathered by the Division of Child and Family Services, one in 14 children in Utah will witness physical domestic abuse, while one in five will see verbal abuse in their homes.

"This can be a very inter-generational event," Peters said, pointing out that many children who grow up around abuse get involved in abusive relationships or become abusers themselves.

She also says there are resources and shelters available to help men and women who are the victims of abuse.

"The main thing is to realize that you don't deserve to be abused," Peters said.

I don't think it's OK. No one deserves to be treated like that. I didn't want my daughter to think it's okay to be treated like that.

–anonymous domestic abuse victim

One mother, who is still hiding from her abuser, told KSL that she's lived through the cycle of abuse herself: "The way my dad treated me, I didn't really have a self-esteem," she said.

When her own husband started to verbally abuse her and threaten violence, she decided it was time to get out.

"I don't think it's OK. No one deserves to be treated like that," she said. "I didn't want my daughter to think it's okay to be treated like that."

According to numbers gathered by the Utah Department of Health, women in Utah experience more than 169,000 intimate partner-related assaults and rapes each year.

Peters says The Family Support Center offers shelter, counseling and daycare, among other services to victims of domestic abuse.

The Utah Department of Human Services has a statewide, 24-hour hotline for victims of domestic violence at 1-800-897-LINK (5465) and a child abuse and neglect hotline at 1-800-323-DCFS (3237).


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