Christmas is a time of year that brings families together, as people sometimes travel across the country to spend their morning exchanging gifts with their loved ones. But for some, Christmas can be a great time of stress for family members, and sometimes even violence.
Between the period of Dec. 26 and Dec. 28, Odessa Police Department records show officers filed about 23 separate charges related to family violence or crimes committed against family members. Eight of those charges were issued on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
OPD Spokesman Cpl. Steve LeSueur said it’s not unusual to see a rise in family violence charges around this time of year, and they usually have a high amount of domestic disturbance calls. He said the rise in the charges can be attributed mostly to the large amount of family members visiting from out of town, causing an increase in crime, both related and unrelated to family violence.
LeSueur added that OPD conducts several assignments during the holiday season and increases their patrol numbers to handle this increase in disturbance calls.
Karen Hildebrand, Executive Director of the Crisis Center of West Texas, said that while their shelter in Odessa usually sees a decrease in the number of women staying with them during the holiday season, there does seem to be a rise in domestic violence incidents nationally.
“Because people are trying to stay together for the holidays, there does seem to be an uptick in the number of incidents due to financial strain, families in close quarters during the holidays, and an increased use of alcohol possibly related to the holidays,” Hildebrand said.
Hildebrand added that the best way to prevent domestic violence from happening is to seek help. The Crisis Center of West Texas offers several services including free counseling, support groups and case managers, she added.
“We know that children are the most impacted by witnessing domestic violence in their homes and we don’t want that to happen,” she said. “The best way to do that is to reach out for help.”
The Crisis Center of West Texas has a 24-hour hotline for issues related to domestic violence or sexual assault and can be reached at 1-866-627-4747. They also accept walk-ins for crisis intervention and advocacy between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at their office at 910-B S. Grant Ave.
The Crisis Center: ccwtx.org