Event in Sandy raises awareness, honors victims of domestic violence

SANDY, Utah -- October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and to bring attention to what a big problem it is in Utah, Sandy City staged a somber ceremony this week.

The statistics are troubling: 291 adults and 338 children were victims of domestic violence in Utah last year.

To raise awareness about the extent of the problem, and to remember the victims, a pin wheel display represented each of the child victims and balloons were placed for each of the adult victims.

Several people who have experienced domestic violence were brave enough to tell their own, very personal stories.

"He threw the dinner that I made on me, poured beer on me, stabbed me with knives and forks, beat me with weight scales, tied me up and tried drowning me in boiling water, tried putting me in the oven and raped me at knifepoint,” said Marlene Bankston.

As hard as it was to tell her story, Bankston said it's important for victims of abuse to speak out if they hope to break the cycle of violence.

"They feel like they're stuck, they're trapped really, and I definitely felt like that for a long time, but it's hard to get out and speak up for yourself,” Bankston said.

The fact that so many victims keep everything inside is why events like this one are so important.

"It's embarrassing and it's hard to talk about, so that's why we're here today: to make sure people are aware, even in Sandy that it is happening, and hope that this puts a face on domestic violence and people are aware about what's happening and get the help they need,” said Lexi Ney, a victim advocate with the Sandy City Police Department.

Support for domestic violence victims is available through the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition. Visit their website or call their hotline at 1-800-897-5465.