By Blakely Gull
Capital West News
“It’s not just someone else’s problem, domestic violence impacts everyone,” cried Utah Domestic Violence Coalition lobbyists during Advocacy Day at the Capitol Feb. 9.
Court Einfeldt was just 9 years old when his sister, Megan Einfeldt, committed suicide as a result of domestic violence.
Court Einfeldt, now in high school, wrote a poem for his English class describing his painful experience. He read the poem to the crowd while holding back tears.
A few lines in the poem read, “He was mean and he scared us. We’d run and we’d hide… I know that he pushed you too hard. He took everything from you, even your life.”
Now an advocate for domestic violence victim services organizations, Court Einfeldt believes if his sister would’ve received more help she’d still be alive.
Representatives from the UDVC told those gathered last Monday that their main goal is to receive the remaining amount of the $393,500 one-time appropriation they were awarded in 2014 and then convert it into ongoing funding.
Currently Utah has 13 private domestic violence nonprofit organizations and they are running at full capacity, said Liz Watson, interim executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.
Their second priority is to prevent re-assault by piloting a lethality assessment protocol, which according to Woods Cross police detective, Adam Osoro, that they have already seen “dramatic results “in other parts of the country.
Osoro told the crowd a story of how the Woods Cross Police Department used the protocol to protect a woman and her two children after the department identified the family as high-risk for domestic violence.
“We don’t leave it up to the victim to protect themselves [with the protocol].” Said Osoro. “As a law enforcement agency it’s our duty to advocate for the victims.”
According to Osoro, if the state provided funding for the lethality assessment tool it could save 15-20 lives a year.
“That’s a big deal,” said Osoro.
Cindy Baldwin, Executive Director for the Canyon Crisis Center, said they don’t put a band-aid on the problem but are open to help 24 hours a day.
Baldwim also spoke of President Obama’s message a couple weeks ago—agreeing she said, “It is on us… we need to look for a proactive approach to solve this.”
Sen. Allen Christensen, R-North Ogden, co-chairman of the Social Services Appropriations Subcommittee, said to the crowd, “It’s a shame [domestic violence] has to exist. But there are ways to cut down on it.”
Christensen also said the UDVC have “impressed” him, “I am grateful to the good people who are willing to deal with this.” He also said that the funding the coalition seeks will go a long way.
“We each can do something about. We are united. We have a plan. If you support this we will minimize homicide rates and make our homes and communities a safer place to be,” said Baldwim.