Kim Johnson ReportingA new report sheds light on an alarming trend -- women are more likely to die from violence in their own homes than anywhere else. On the eve of Valentine's Day, it’s a disturbing glimpse into what happens when domestic relationships go bad.
Domestic violence is a significant proportion of all homicides, of many assault cases, and in a sizeable number of child abuse reports.
The report was compiled by the State Domestic Violence Cabinet Council. It shows that since the year 2000, more than 40 people have been murdered by their spouses or partners in Utah. It's a rate of violence that exceeds the national average by as much as 25 percent. And it's a problem that is exceeding the state's ability to provide prevention, and protection.
When Brandy Farmer threatened to leave her abusive husband, he put a gun to their daughter's head. For seven years Brandy endured beatings, emotional abuse and food and sleep deprivation at the hand of her former husband.
Brandy Farmer, Abuse Victim: "Every day I woke up believing it was going to be the last day that I would live."
She kept her nightmare hidden from her family. She says her neighbors often heard her scream for help, and never once did they call police.
Brandy Farmer: "Instead they went inside and shut the door because they didn't want to become involved, because we went to church with them."
But Brandy is one of the lucky ones. With help, she broke free and now dedicates her life to educating social workers, lawmakers, clergy, police, even prisoners. While domestic violence is a complex issue, Brandy says she has found a common factor in perpetrators.
Brand Farmer: "All of them told me the same thing -- they were afraid to be alone. They said to me they would brainwash their partners, and tell them they're no good so they'd be afraid to leave."
Farmer says men who abuse their partners often have low self-esteem, and many have been abused themselves. Sociologists also say men struggle with the pressures of work.
Theresa Martinez, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, University of Utah: "For men, their definition of self comes from work, and their self esteem comes from work. And if that's not going well, a lot of the safety valve becomes the home."
And sometimes the valve fails. In 2003 ten people lost their lives to domestic violence. Domestic violence shelters are so crowded, 922 families were turned away last year. Statistics like that, and full report, will be delivered to the domestic violence council next Tuesday.