LUBBOCK, Texas — As we begin the season of holiday cheer, local women’s shelters warn that, for many women, these months can also bring fear.

Steven Garcia with Women’s Protective Services in Lubbock said his organization receives around 700 calls for help from women in need each month. Yet during the holiday season, their call volume can double. In a city with domestic violence rates already twice the state average, there is an outsized need this time of year.

“Once it’s past thanksgiving it seems to really explode,” Garcia said. “During the holidays, it’s supposed to be a time for getting together, sharing, loving family… and for some of us it’s not.”

Nationwide, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience domestic violence – defined as any physical assault, intimidation, and emotional or economic abuse by one intimate partner to another.

Garcia said nobody can pinpoint exactly why violence rates spike this time of year, though he offered some theories.

“One of the things may be that the kids are out of school temporarily, and perpetrators who don’t have good parenting skills… it’s a stressor for them,” he said. “Alcohol consumption is going to go up during the holidays, which in turn will lead to even more incidents of violence… alcohol is like the gasoline and once that match is lit, whatever that stimulus may be, it’s going to ignite pretty bad.”

If you are in an abusive relationship or worry you may be in a dangerous situation, Women’s Protective Services stresses the importance of telling someone.

“My best advice is to reach out, to talk to us… talk to a trained professional, ask questions,” Garcia said. “You can remain anonymous, just get some information… that’s the best thing, is just to call the police, call us, tell somebody. Just don’t suffer in silence, it’s just terrible, especially this time of year.”

For others who may know of someone they worry is in danger or domestic violence, Garcia says this time of holiday cheer is an opportunity to extend a lifeline.

“Be neighborly. Neighbors of people who may know of something going on next door, just go check on them,” he said. “This is a good time when you can get away with being neighborly. Extend that little helping hand to see if they’ll take it.”

Women’s Protective Services is open 24/7, 365 days a year. They provide food, shelter, counseling, legal aid, and other services for women and children in need of safety. Their number is (806) 747-6491.

Victims are also encouraged to contact the Lubbock Police Department and call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.

Open Door Survivor Housing is another local charity that provides housing and therapy services to survivors of sex trafficking, which they say can be closely related to abusive and manipulative relationships.

“I’m sure there’s a lot of moms out there who would be very grateful to have a holiday, Christmas where her and the kids can sleep soundly at night,” Garcia said. “We try to make it as much of a welcoming environment as possible under the circumstances. There are alternatives. You don’t have to spend this holiday in fear.”