October is a month used to increase awareness and decrease domestic violence across the nation. Nationally, each year women experience 4.8 million intimate partner related physical assaults and rapes. In Utah, there is approximately one intimate partner homicide every 22 days (Utah Government Services).
However, the above statistics don’t illustrate the severity of this problem. According to, “The Justice Gap” about 75% of domestic violence cases in Utah are not reported to authorities and victims are left to suffer in silence. It is estimated one in every three Utah women will experience some form of domestic violence in her lifetime.
“AND JUSTICE FOR ALL” partner agencies, Utah Legal Services (ULS) and Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake (LAS) strive to help those who are suffering receive the protection they so desperately need and deserve through protective orders. In a recent national study, protective orders have been found to be the most effective way to put a stop to domestic violence, more than sheltering or counseling services.
However, while most of the victims of domestic violence are female, one in four men will also experience violence. Utah Legal Services (ULS) helps many young men, like Shyam, fight for this deserved protection; here is Shyam’s story:
Shyam was an immigrant from India who had been dealing with ongoing physical abuse from his estranged wife and her father for over a year. The abuse did not stop at these two individuals but often involved his wife’s friends as well. One of these attacks preformed by her friend was so brutal that it landed Shyam in the hospital, and eventually reduced him to living in his car with the constant fear for his life. Regardless of the attackers consistent threats that if he involved police he would become involved with immigration issues, Shyam decided that it was time to stand up for the protection that he deserved. Shyam filed for protective orders against his estranged wife and her father but the court did not grant either of these orders. Regardless of his wife’s’ confession of abuse they found that Shyam’s father-in-law was not a cohabitant under the Cohabitant Abuse Act, even though it plainly defined cohabitants as being related by blood or marriage. The court also found issue with the delay in filing for the orders on Shyam’s behalf, even though once again it was plainly stated in the Cohabitant Abuse Act that this was not an issue. Utah Legal Services appealed both decisions and gained favorable opinions. These decisions clarified the definition of cohabitants and reinforced Utah’s Cohabitant Abuse Act provision that the passage of time cannot be used to deny a protective order. Shyam’s stand against his attackers has and will help many Utahns across the state gain the protection they deserve.
In order to better our community, and help those like Shyam, citizens need to aware of the horrors many of our friends, family members, and neighbors face. An increase in awareness will hopefully lead to an increase in programs and support to held end domestic violence. If you or anyone you know is being abused, please call the Community Legal Center at 801-363-1347.