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Police, advocates say COVID-19 pandemic is fueling spike in domestic violence cases

As domestic violence cases have increased during the pandemic, organizations like Family Services of Southeast Texas want victims to know they're here for them.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Right now, the pandemic has put extraordinary stress on so many families. Advocates and law enforcement believe that may be the reason they're seeing a spike in domestic violence cases.

As domestic violence cases have increased during the pandemic, organizations like Family Services of Southeast Texas want victims to know they're here for them.

Director of Family Services of Southeast Texas Brittany Parsels said since the start of the pandemic, phones have been ringing like crazy.

"We have seen an increase in our hotline calls,” Parsels said. “However, a lot of our women have not come to the shelter, whether that's fear of their abuser catching them trying to leave or with the COVID-19 pandemic."

Parsels said she is seeing more children becoming victims as parents turn to negative behaviors in order to deal with stress.

"A lot of people are going through a depression right now, and a lot of times what people use to cope with mental health issues are substance abuse,” Parsels said. “In turn, that can trickle down into domestic violence, and sometimes it's easier for the abuser to take it out on a child because they cannot fend for themselves."

Victims often show up at the family services shelter looking for a safe way out. Parsels said her job is to get them back on their feet.

"Just being with women and children that are survivors and letting our women and children know that they can accomplish these goals and that they are good, they are better than, you know. Their abusers spent so much time putting them down. We're here to build them up and then when they blossom, they are just amazing," Parsels said.

The Beaumont Police Department says they are also experiencing an increase in domestic violence calls.

"It may just take that one call for the right officer to get on scene and make a connection with the victim where that person finally decides that if they don't make a decision to get out, they might not have that chance next time," Beaumont Police Officer Haley Morrow said.

Victims of domestic violence can call the Family Services of Southeast Texas 24-hour hotline at 409-832-7575.

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