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Domestic Violence Laws are Misguided: Punishing Less-Violent Behavior Detracts from Preventing the Most Serious Harm

A.J. Parker, age 25, was working at Intermountain Healthcare when she met Landon Jorgensen, 24, who was a Marine veteran and a firearms instructor. They had a whirlwind romance, and several weeks later, Jorgensen moved in with Parker and her five-year-old daughter. But within a year, Parker had second thoughts and wanted to end the relationship. This may have been the reason that Jorgensen shot Parker and her daughter to death and viciously attacked the family dog before taking his own life.

Murder-suicide incidents like this tragedy are becoming more frequent in Utah. Of the 33 domestic violence-related deaths in 2011, 19 were murder-suicides. The Utah Domestic Violence Council (UDVC) reminds the public that domestic violence occurs in all socio-economic and ethnic groups—and can be fatal. Domestic abuse can take the form of physical or sexual violence, emotional abuse, or financial and social control.

Warning signs of domestic violence include:

  • Escalating physical violence
  • Controlling behaviors
  • Suicide threats
  • Threats with a weapon
  • Violence against children or animals

Violent behavior can be triggered by financial hardship or when one partner expresses a desire to end the relationship. Although there were no domestic abuse complaints against Jorgensen, the majority of intimate partner homicides include a history of physical abuse.

An estimated 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by a spouse or partner every year. If you or your children are in danger of domestic violence, get help. Call 911 for immediate help or the Utah LINKline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465). And contact a skilled attorney at Intermountain Legal today.

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