Authorities notice increase in domestic violence during the holidays

Published: Dec. 24, 2015 at 3:45 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 1, 2016 at 3:35 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - The death of a Montgomery woman Monday, allegedly at the hands of a man police say she had been in a relationship with shines a light on a disturbing trend authorities notice during the holidays.

The holidays are a time to gather as a family but for some that could be a recipe for disaster,

"Unusually there's alcohol involved, you have people who are off work people are spending more time together there's a lot more stress around the holidays and we do tend to see an uptick in domestic violence cases," said Montgomery County District Attorney Daryl Bailey.

According to MPD there have been 10 domestic-related homicides so far this year and Bailey says one domestic violence homicide in Montgomery is too many. "Domestic violence homicide is totally preventable but it takes the individual that has been victimized seeking help or a family member or friend seeking help for them that's how it's preventable," he said.

Half of those lives have been claimed just since Thanksgiving weekend.

"I've been doing this for over 20 years and seemingly right before the holidays and right after is a heighten," said Nathan Cook, One Place Family Justice Center Executive Director. Cook says tensions are tested when abuse is already present.

Authorities say the abuse is rarely an isolated incident and the holidays seem to exacerbate the symptoms.

"Someone who is constantly humiliating you, belittling you trying to make you take responsibility for their actions all those are signs that you're in an abusive relationship," said Cook.

Bailey says the abuse starts out verbally and escalates to physical and then to threats of violence. "Everyone needs to recognize the symptoms of a domestic violence relationship, the controlling nature, the warning signs and they need to get help the minute they see these warning signs," said Bailey.
Prosecutors and advocates say it's all about educating what abuse looks like.

"You want to start talking to that individual that there is help a lot of folk have been in abusive situation so long they don't even see it as abusive, that something is wrong with the behavior," said Cook.

Most importantly, if you're the victim, know that help is always available.

"They can call One Place or the Sunshine Center of the Montgomery Police Department but doing nothing is unacceptable because that could be the life of their loved ones," said Bailey.

Experts say if you're visiting friends or family and notice the abuse or something is off your first step is to communicate.  Ask if something is wrong, express concern and offer help, never wait for someone to come to you or think it's none of your business.

If you or a loved ones need help, you can call the 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-650-6522.

The Family Sunshine Center can be reached at 334-263-0218 and One Place Family Justice Center can help at 334-262-7378.

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