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Children the Innocent Victims of Domestic Violence

Children the Innocent Victims of Domestic Violence



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Richard Piatt ReportingSalt Lake County has seen three domestic violence cases in the last week, and all three have something in common: children were witnesses.

It's a sad fact, children witnessing domestic violence is a fact of life. Even more heartbreaking in these cases is that the children have lost their parents.

Inside the house where a man stabbed and shot a woman, then shot and killed himself, there was a child hiding. A five-year old whom Jacqueline Viloto was babysitting. Viloto's teenage sons stumbled onto the scene.

In Holladay, an eight-year old girl called 9-1-1 when her dad, Garth McClure, shot his wife Carrie and turned the gun on himself.

In West Valley City a mother and father fight violently in front of three children. Trey Brown turns on his wife's girlfriend, Norma Espinoza, stabbing her as neighbors and the children watch.

This has been a bad year for cases like this in Utah. There have been seven domestic violence related deaths in the state. In 2003 and 2004 the total for the whole year was seven and eight respectively.

What statistics don't reveal is the effect on the children who are part of such violence. But emergency calls, like these used for training law enforcement officers, speak volumes.

"I saw him kick her and he grabbed her and he almost broke her neck. And he's done this before."

"9-1-1 emergency". " (crying) My mommy and daddy are having a fight..."

For officials who deal with violence, listening to old tapes like this prepare them to help the children.

Ned Searle, Governor's Office on Violence Against Women and Families: "It's devastating for someone who has to work on this issue to think about that kind of experience for somebody."

And for children help comes slowly, after decisions for a funeral; conflicting input from mom and dad's families and more.

Kevin Gully, Child Psychologist: "It's really important to reestablish a sense of safety for the child, which starts with people reassuring the child that the world is going to be okay."

In fact, whole communities are affected by cases like those we've reported recently.

Family and friends held a candlelight vigil tonight to remember the life of Norma Espinoza. Dozens gathered at Jordan Park to share memories and mourn the loss of their friends and sister.

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