Tonya Lemus could have been the victim of a domestic violence homicide. She escaped her abusive relationship 25 years ago and gathered the courage to speak about her ordeal publicly for the first time at this gathering. Lemus says she traveled the mountain west looking for a safe haven, when she could have used resources that were available at the time.
“I could have had shelter at the YWCA or South Valley Sancuary,"Lemus says. "I could have had a whole new life with some housing help. I could have had so many things that were available to me to make the transition so much easier.”
Today, Lemus works with the Utah Domestic Violence Council to get the word out about the resources available.
Peg Coleman is executive director of the Utah Domestic Violence Council. She says this past year her organization’s statewide domestic violence hotline received an increasing number of calls.
“We’re seeing that the brutality is increasing, the lengths that people will go to, to torment," Coleman says. "I’m glad people are calling now. I want them to call when it’s first a little bad feeling in their gut as opposed to when it’s a physical assault.”
Coleman says her organization will be working this year to convince state lawmakers that domestic violence resources should be a priority.