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Domestic Abuse reports in Texas County

                                                                                                                     Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash
By Shari Harris

Over the past six months, the Texas County Sheriff’s Department has released information about 12 arrests involving domestic assault, assault, rape and sodomy. Many of these arrests have not yet had their day in court. The courthouse reports during that same time period, however, have chronicled the sentencing of at least 13 individuals for domestic assault charges, ranging from second to fourth degree; and six for assault charges, ranging from first to fourth degree. In addition sentences have been passed down for statutory rape, abuse or neglect of a child, violation of protective orders, stalking second degree and second-degree child molestation. This doesn’t include the responses to calls of domestic violence where no charges were brought, or the incidents that were never reported.
The social isolation that has occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the issues of violence and domestic violence. The problem pre-dates the pandemic, but due to the virus, the triggers for violence may have changed and the systems in place to help those being abused have had to find new avenues to assist.
Anxiety is heightened on many fronts including health, job security, home life, food supply and home schooling children. Tempers may be short; and escape from the tension is difficult when neither parents nor children have a place to which they can escape. Furthermore, child abuse is often detected by alert teachers or administrators who are trained to recognize the signs. With schools closed, this source of help for children is absent. Less time spent in the community means fewer opportunities for abuse of any sort to be detected.
Stephanie C. Nash, LICSW, President & CEO of Episcopal Center for Children, offered these tips.
• Set boundaries. Give yourself permission for some quiet time/space during the course of the day. For many parents or guardians, that might mean getting up before everyone else, or having a quiet time to pray, meditate, or do breathing exercises.
• Encourage family chores that are age-appropriate for everyone in the family. Offer praise for completed chores and talk about how everyone is working together.
• Set intentions and realistic expectations for yourself. One way to do that is to write down what you intend to accomplish for the day.
• Exercise self- compassion. Be kind to yourself during this time of challenges.
As communities transition through the phases of reopening, remain vigilant for signs of abuse. Hotlines are available where abuse can be reported anonymously. If you are being abused, you can call these hotlines for assistance.  Staying Safe During COVID-19 – National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY). If you are unable to speak safely, log onto www.thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522.
Seek help from family, friends, clergy, or mental health professionals before you reach your breaking point. Don’t wait until the pressure cooker your life has become explodes into violence and hurts the ones you love.


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