There is a place in Central Utah specifically designed to take care of women who are victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse.
This non-profit organization called the New Horizons Crisis Center works with the Sanpete County Attorney’s Office to provide resources such as shelter, food and comfort to the victims of domestic abuse, said Heidi Aagard, rape and sexual assault program coordinator for New Horizons.
In Sanpete County, cases of domestic abuse and sexual assault have ticked up in the last year due to COVID related stresses, Aagard said.
“There are real problems for sure in small communities like Sanpete County,” she said.
The biggest challenge her crisis center faces is finding resources to fight the problem. “We have to find ways to get the victims out of abusive relationships,” she said.
Her office receives referrals from the Sanpete County Attorney and then goes to work to solve the problems, she said.
New Horizons has a shelter in Richfield, Aagard said. But sometimes, other housing alternatives are needed. The center has outreach offices in Sevier, Sanpete, Wayne, Piute and Millard Counties.
Because October is Domestic Awareness Month, New Horizons is spreading a message of hope for anyone who has encountered domestic violence to reach out and get support from them.
“We dedicate our time and efforts to encircling victims, educating and empowering them with support and resources,” Aagard said. “It is our goal to bring about more awareness and understanding across Central Utah.”
Since the year 2000, at least 42 percent of Utah homicides were domestic violence related. According to the Utah Coalition for Domestic Violence, one in three women is victims of domestic violence and 36.9 percent of Utah women will experience rape, stalking and/or physical violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime.
“We are often misinformed into thinking that domestic violence is something that doesn’t affect our area, or people ‘like us,’” she said. “It can be difficult to separate oneself from things seen on social media and across the internet, yet we are willing to look the other way at the realities of domestic violence that surround us in our day to day lives.”
It is important to understand what domestic violence means and what it can look like. “We often fail to see an abusive partner ruining family life,” she said.
The theme for Domestic Violence Awareness month this year is “Paint the Town Purple.” The color purple is a symbol of peace, courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending violence, Aagard said. “It is a salute to survivors and those we have lost to domestic violence.”
Those looking to show their care for domestic violence victims and survivors alike are welcome to purchase a yard sign or a purple lightbulb for their front porch so showcase their support. Please reach out to New Horizons Crisis Center to find local places that are selling these items.
Although New Horizons receives much of its funding through grants, they also rely heavily on private donations. They accept donations by check or Venmo. Checks can be written to New Horizons Crisis Center and be mailed to headquarters at 145 E. 100 N. Richfield, UT 84701.
The Sanpete County office is located at 96 S. Main, Suite 4, Ephraim. For more info, call Heidi Aagard at 287-7058 or 24 hour hotline 1-800-343-6302.