(KCPW News) A murder-suicide last week of a West Jordan family with a history of financial struggles is perhaps the most recent example of how stress over money can contribute to domestic violence. The murder of Melissa Matern and her two children by her estranged husband could also illustrate a dangerous trend during this historic economic recession. Keri Jones with the Salt Lake City YWCA says the level of violence has escalated since the recession began.
“What we have seen is not necessarily a stark increase in numbers. But what we have seen is more significant injuries being reported and more stress due to finances being reported in the home, which has resulted in the significant injury,” Jones says. “So that’s obviously concerning.”
Jones also says the majority of the women’s shelters in Utah’s rural communities have been consistently full this year, something that used to happen only in shelters in Salt Lake County.
Jones says it’s important for friends, family and neighbors to reach out to women and men they fear are victims of domestic violence. She says the signs go beyond physical abuse, including being emotionally withdrawn. Jones says victims of domestic violence often feel isolated, especially when money is tight.
“I think specifically women who are dependent on a partner for financial resources become even further isolated, because they don’t have the resources to walk out the door and then, you know, start life over at whatever point they choose to,” Jones says. “So it really further isolates them and further victimizes them because they don’t have options.”
The YWCA operates 16 shelters throughout the state and provides a variety of services for victims of domestic violence. Last year, it helped 4,000 people.