KILLEEN, TX — Today marks the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As community activists and Killeen Police work to combat the growing homicide rates, the city has also seen an increase in domestic related homicides and incidents.
Domestic violence can include everything from a verbal altercation all the way to a homicide.
Domestic means it involves members of the same household.
However KPD and other experts say they believe the know one of the reasons why theses domestic disputes are so high this year in particular.
"We have seen an increase compared to last year during the same time," said Commander Anthony Lourance with KPD's Criminal investigations Unit.
Commander Lourence says they have seen an increase of domestic related incidents and homicides.
"We believe that it is due to COVID-19 people are spending more time indoors with one another," said Lourence.
"Those incidents can be a verbal or even a homicide we are seeing an increase and the difference between this year and last year is the type of stress," said Dr. Tammy Bracewell, Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at A&M Central TX.
The unique stressors of COVID-19 has played apart in the rise of domestic violence. With 10 years of law enforcement experience and 5 years of research, Dr. Tammy Bracewell says this issue isn't unique to Texas..
"Of course domestic violence happens all across the demographics, across all socioeconomic backgrounds. It doesn’t matter where you are, we are seeing an increase in domestic violence incidents," she said.
Non-profits like Families in Crisis provide shelter and a wide variety of support to domestic violence victims. Program Director Suzanne Armour says for 2019, they served over 500 victims who spent about 20,500 nights in the shelter.
"About 60% of those were children so that’s a big year for us. That averages out to about 56 persons a night so that means we might have a night where we have 55 people, we might have a night we have 77 people it just depends," said Armour.
When you throw children in the mix, Dr. Bracewell says being exposed to something that seems as small as a verbal argument, could result in them becoming a victim or an aggressor themselves.
"They are predisposed to that because you seek out what you know and unfortunately if that’s all you know growing up, is that volatile environment, that’s what you’re familiar with," said Bracewell.
As the statistics increase here at home and across the country, Armour says there is always hope.
"There’s always help out there and if you have someone that you can trust when you can talk to you about your situation, I was strongly encouraged them to reach out because most people want to help," Armour said.
Armour says seeking out help before things escalate to a physical stage is key.
Their crisis hot line,1-888-799-SAFE, is always available if you just talk or need information about their resources.