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West Valley City Journal

City Hall exhibit shows impact of domestic violence on community

Nov 08, 2023 10:05AM ● By Darrell Kirby

Cutouts in the lobby of city hall represent real victims of domestic violence in West Valley City going back to at least the 1980s. (Darrell Kirby/City Journals)

The stories were brief—only a sentence or two attached to red cutouts representing men, women and children who died as a result of domestic violence. The words told how they succumbed to the scourge of parents, spouses, siblings, and other relatives inflicting physical harm among each other sometimes to the point of death.

To remember the victims of domestic violence, the West Valley City Victim Services Office invited anyone interested to stop by city hall to write and decorate letters of encouragement and support for survivors as part of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. The letters were displayed in the lobby of West Valley City Hall and on the Victim Services Office Facebook page.

“We just want to let people know that we are here and they are not alone,” said Jennifer Hancock, coordinator of the Victim Services Office. “We’re here to help them any way that we can. We have connections to all community resources.” She added that those resources are available even if there is no reported crime.

Some of the deaths at the hands of family members described on cutouts go back at least to the 1980s. The victims were all West Valley City residents. Summaries of the tragedies as posted on several of the cutouts include:

“Date 01/27/02. Amy. 30-year-old female. Amy had been out for the evening with her two small children. She had told friends she was afraid her husband would kill her. When Amy returned home, her husband shot her with a rifle and killed her.” 

“Date 03/09/2010. Maralee. 55-year-old female. Maralee was beat (sic) and killed by her long-time boyfriend.”

“Date 10/19/04. Carson. 4-year-old male. Carson dies as a result of severe injuries sustained by his mother’s live-in boyfriend.” 

“Date 10/07/05. Tyrone. 23-year-old male. Tyrone was shot to death by his brother during an argument.” 

“Date 06/12/2018. Sherral. 80-year-old male was assaulted by his grandson and died from his injuries.” 

Unfortunately, the number of reported incidents is not subsiding. 

“Statewide we’ve seen an increase in domestic violence since COVID,” Hancock said. “I think that’s just a lot of different reasons including people being confined in close quarters during the height of the pandemic,” she said. Hancock said even more recently some domestic violence cases can be attributed to financial pressures brought on by inflation and other economic stresses. Infidelity and jealousy in a relationship can also spark tensions that lead to violent behaviors. 

Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence show that on average 20 people are physically abused every minute by an intimate partner in the United States. One in four women and one out of nine men “experience severe intimate partner physical violence,” according to the organization. The abuse can occur not just among married and unmarried couples, but parents and children and siblings, Grandparents and grandchildren can even get violent among each other. 

 West Valley City Victim Services can be reached at 801-963-3223. Other domestic violence services and resources can be found at λ