ABILENE, Texas - The holiday season typically means sitting by a cozy fire to enjoy the company of friends and family. But for some, it means domestic violence could strike at any time.
According to Noah Project Executive Director Leigh Ann Fry, an unprecedented number of victims have been seeking assistance over the past two months. She said more than 900 un-duplicated victims were served from Fiscal Year 2012 to 2013—but the project has already surpassed that number going into the current fiscal year.
Several different factors play into domestic violence. Victims can be of any age or gender and abuse can be either physical or emotional.
Fry said the holiday season does not cause abusive behavior, but it can trigger abuse.
"The person who is a batterer – it's about control," Fry said. "There are certain things that will set them off: Increased pressure around the holidays, when it's cold outside the kids are inside playing [and] they can't go outside, there's not enough money to provide the meal—the toys that you want for the holidays—and those kinds of things, you just really begin to see an increase in family violence."
If you're visiting family over the holidays, pay close attention to your host and look for anything that seems out of character or out of the ordinary.
"Isolation is a huge red flag," Fry said. "If it's someone in your family who has always participated in family meals and family gatherings and suddenly they're finding all kinds of excuses not to participate, that is a red flag and you need to listen to that."
Fry pointed out a startling reality about past cases.
"Several times this year we've provided services to women who the police have found literally tied up in their homes," Fry said. "If you're missing a family member—someone's just not answering their phone, you feel uncomfortable—call the police, they'll do a safe well check [or] drive by the house with a friend. Just see if you can tell what's going on."
The Noah Project provides free services and is open 24/7, including Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Other transitional housing in Abilene includes 180 House Inc. and the Ranch on the Rock which can be contacted at (325) 660-1317
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