CHSS Student Spotlight: Rebecca McNairy

CHSS Student Spotlight: Rebecca McNairy

Rebecca McNairy, a student working to earn her a master’s degree in social work, will be presenting about her efforts to start Utah County’s first domestic violence specialty court at the upcoming UVU Conference on Domestic Violence. 

Rebecca, a mother of five, has both volunteered at and completed the training for the Children’s Justice Center and the Center for Women and Children in Crisis. She didn’t decide to pursue her master’s degree, however, until after she found out that one of her close friends was in a very abusive relationship. “I was shocked that someone I had known for such a long time was suffering so much and that it took so long to come to light,” Rebecca said. “I knew then that there was more I could do.”

For her practicum project, Rebecca has been working with the Utah County Attorney’s Office and the Utah County commissioner to drum up support for a domestic violence specialty court. Domestic violence is a serious problem in Utah. One in three women will experience some form of domestic abuse in her lifetime, and 44 percent of all homicides in Utah are domestic violence-related, numbers that are even higher than the national average.

Unfortunately, domestic violence cases are rarely reported, and, if they are reported, they’re very difficult to investigate and prosecute. While a traditional court focuses on punishments for the perpetrator, a domestic violence specialty court focuses on the actual wants and needs of the family. While the court still passes down appropriate punishments for a crime, they focus more around finding and treating the root of the problem. “Domestic violence courts are essential because they can make domestic violence survivors feel safer during the court process,” Rebecca said.

After months of work, including collaborating with Wasatch Mental Health, the Provo Sheriff’s Office, Utah County Alternative Probation, victim advocates, and many other groups, Rebecca succeeded in generating funding for a domestic violence specialty court.  

On April 16 at 11:30 a.m., Rebecca will be presenting more about her experience in coordinating this unique pilot court at the UVU Conference on Domestic Violence. Seating is limited, so get your tickets today.  

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