It's tough to say which is more impressive: that a muscle-bound, armed deputy is prepared to show up at your door in the middle of the night to rescue you from a bad relationship, or that the same officer is willing to wobble up Main Street in a fetching pair of pumps to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Summit County and Park City residents are lucky they don't have to choose one or the other. Last week, representatives from local law enforcement agencies teetered up Main Street on borrowed high heels to exhibit their sensitive sides and to bring more attention to the issue. Tuesday, on a more somber note, they will join members of the public at a vigil to show their support for its victims.
Local law officers train year-round to defuse domestic confrontations. Many also participate in educational outreach efforts to ensure potential victims know that help is available. And thanks to generous members of the community, those resources are growing. There is a shelter in Park City that is ready to offer safe harbor to victims and their children at a moment's notice and there is a county-wide coalition of experts that is working to enlarge the community's safety net. Both Peace House and the Summit County Domestic Violence Coalition are prepared to steer victims toward the right resources and are willing to help others in the community recognize when an individual needs help.
Those efforts can make the entire community safer by breaking the cycle of violence. Research suggests that children who are victims of domestic abuse or who witness it at home are more prone to become victims or abusers themselves. It makes sense that when children see one parent taken away in an ambulance and another led away in handcuffs, they will be deeply affected.
That, in addition to the tragic toll of lost lives and broken families, is more than enough reason to put a high priority on establishing a strong network to identify and put a stop to abusive situations.
Park City and Summit County have seen their share of domestic violence. In April, a woman was shot to death by her partner and the daily log from the sheriff's dispatch center is strewn with reports of domestic altercations from verbal threats to battering. Fortunately, the issue is not being ignored or hidden and help is available.
For more information, contact Peace House: (435)658-4739. Or just come join Tuesday's walk and vigil on Main Street starting at the top of Main at 6 p.m.