The Times West Virginian

December 27, 2013

Number of domestic violence cases on the rise around holidays

By Kristen Talerico
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Domestic violence in the Marion County area is at a high during the holiday season. With the passing of Christmas and the coming of New Year’s, all the togetherness of family and friends seems to create a greater tension than normal.

HOPE Inc. of Fairmont, a domestic violence shelter, provides a stable atmosphere and help for victims. Mary Hall, an employee at HOPE Inc., said “many places do see an increase in domestic violence during the holidays because times are difficult, like financially, because people are stressed out more and cannot provide for their families.”

With the increased stress being put on families during the holiday, Chief Deputy Ralph Wright of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department suggested walking away and counting to 10, or going outside to diffuse the situation.

Taking a few moments to let your thoughts and anger settle is one key factor in assuring that domestic violence does not occur, he said.

Not only does the tension of providing for their families during the holidays cause anger to arise, but Wright said the weather plays an important role in whether people carry a happy demeanor.

One recipe for disaster in a city like Fairmont is the snowy weather.

“It truly depends on the weather and if a bunch of people are cooped up inside,” Wright said.

Many factors play a part as to why domestic violence is at a high during the holiday season, and while there are still a few days left until the new year, finding options to prevent such violence is essential.

“Our community has been phenomenal in adopting people for Christmas and providing for them during the holidays. The children are always excited to get gifts from HOPE,” Hall said.

Knowing that the community is in a place to help those in need is a great feeling that everyone can keep in the back of their mind if they ever find themselves in a domestic violence situation.

Most of the time, victims do not want to celebrate the holidays, and this spirit is one HOPE Inc. is trying to restore in people’s lives.

“Many people live in outlying areas, and transportation is a huge issue,” Hall said, adding that this is another contributing factor as to why the county is experiencing a high number of reports regarding domestic violence — being stuck in a desolate area may cause people to feel sheltered, and in return result in physical altercations.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Department encouraged people who think they are a victim of domestic violence to call 911.

Hall said there are community education programs to help people learn about HOPE Inc. and their options regarding domestic violence and professional counseling that goes between Marion and Harrison County, and children’s programs are also available.

Email Kristen Talerico at ktalerico@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @KTalericoTWV.