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Holidays bring increase in domestic violence

Date: 2006-11-21

Officials say they see more cases of domestic violence during the holidays, but it doesn't disappear when the holiday decorations come down.

Midland County Sheriff Gary Painter said he and his deputies see domestic violence year-round, but he thinks with added stress of the holidays and the influence of narcotics and alcohol, the number of victims increases.

"I'd say most domestic violence cases involve alcohol and narcotics. It seems to usually be the nucleus of the argument, and because you can't rationalize with a person under the influence of narcotics or alcohol, it just gets worse," said Painter.

Safe Place Executive Director Carole Wayland said both men and women can be victims of domestic violence. "Last year, I think we served three men with residential services," she said.

Safe Place provides victims of domestic abuse with advocacy programs, children's programs and abuser's programs which all help to make an effort to end domestic violence in homes.

According to statistics compiled by the Midland Police Department's criminal analysis department, a total of 6,192 emergency calls of domestic violence were made during the months November and December over the past five years.

Painter says he believes domestic violence occurs anywhere from three to four times before the victim decides to call law enforcement.

"They have a personal hope that things will get better, but it never does," Painter said.

Painter referenced the recent Aldo Pacheco capital murder case as a prime example of how domestic violence can end. Wayland said Safe Place helps victims walk through the justice system because "it can be very overwhelming and daunting."

Wayland said murder victim Barbara Pacheco had a protective order against her husband before her death. "It's very hard reliving that. Any time there's an issue like that, it reemphasizes how lethal domestic violence can be," she said.

A statewide survey done by the Texas Council on Family Violence and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott showed three out of four 16 to 24-year-old Texans have either personally experienced dating violence or know someone who has.

A program for domestic violence offenders at Safe Place called Project ADAM is a 24 week program that teaches abusers the importance of, and ways to have an equal relationship with, their spouses.

Painter believes some abusers decide they don't want to back down from their threats. "If they told them they were going to do something, they irrationally decide they have to follow through with it," he said.

Painter also said during the holidays, he and his deputies get calls from neighbors about loud fights and deputies end up having to file a complaint against the abuser. "The spouse will very rarely file complaint. Many times we file the complaint and take them into custody just so they can cool off," he said.

Wayland said the men she has come across at Safe Place are not too different from the women in demeanor.

"It's not a gender issue, it's more of a control issue," she said.

Painter said he believes counseling can help, but it is contingent on the willingness of the person involved. "When an argument leads to violence, no one is the winner. If children are present, they suffer the worst," he said.

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