LUBBOCK, Texas — What is the most wonderful time of the year for some, often marks the darkest season for others in Lubbock, as domestic violence incidents surge within the confines of both homes and workplaces during the holidays.
Steven Garcia, director of Women’s Protective Services in Lubbock said that the organization notices a spike in DV cases after Thanksgiving, the closer it gets to Christmas.
Garcia explained that when people with abusive tendencies are not prioritized, their abusive behavior heightens, casting a somber shadow on the festive spirit.
Factors that escalate domestic abuse during the holidays & year-round
“We haven’t done an official study, but we all speculate it’s money – the stressor of Christmas – and all the expectations and pressures,” Garcia said. “When you throw in an abusive relationship, that’s magnified so much more.”
Lubbock WPS services multiple counties. In 2022 alone, Garcia said Lubbock WPS took in about 3700 victims, ages 25-30, which is older than the national average, ages 18-24. He expects the 2023 number to be much higher.
Garcia added that in the summer, DV rates also tend to increase due to the heat and people staying out longer.
“These are not causes of domestic violence, just ingredients that add to it,” Garcia stressed.
Who protects the protectors?
Garcia said that domestic violence within law enforcement reaches another level of intensity.
“Their job is to carry a weapon, and they’re trained to use that weapon correctly,” Garcia explained, saying that guns were the number one method used by abusers to kill their spouse or significant other.
In mid-October, a Lubbock Police Department Deputy Chief was arrested and accused of continuous violence and threatening death with what was believed to be a department-issued weapon against a female civilian employee. The two had begun a relationship in 2021 shortly after she became employed, court documents said.
According to Garcia, the power and control dynamic is exacerbated in DV cases where both parties are involved in law enforcement.
For officers not involved in the situation, “It feels almost like a betrayal if they’re going to rat someone out,” Garcia said. In the victim’s case, it “Makes it harder to escape those situations. Any place they would turn they’ve [the perpetrator] probably already made connections.”
Upon request by EverythingLubbock.com, LPD issued the following answers to questions surrounding officer misconduct within a police department:
Q: How does the Lubbock Police Department handle domestic violence cases, particularly those involving its own personnel, to ensure accountability and transparency? A: Officers responding to any reports of domestic violence will determine if a crime has occurred and make arrests when appropriate. Any report of officer misconduct, which could potentially be criminal, will be investigated by the Metropolitan Special Crimes unit. Q: What support or resources does the department offer to individuals and families affected by domestic violence during the holidays? A: Regardless of the time of year, officers give advice about available shelters and community services for victims of domestic violence to try and reduce the frequency and seriousness of domestic violence incidents. Officers are required to provide victims with literature containing information on the legal process, victim’s rights, victim’s assistance and the contact information of various support resources. Q: Are there any policies or protocols in place within law enforcement agencies to handle domestic violence incidents involving officers? A: Yes, as the LPD is a civil service agency, Chapter 143 of the Texas Government code and the LPD General Policy Manual gives direction on investigating internal reports of officer misconduct. Chapter 143 only covers agencies that are civil service agencies. Q: In light of recent events, what steps is the department taking to maintain the public's trust and confidence in the police force's commitment to the safety and security of the Lubbock community? A: The department continues to be transparent by speaking publicly on matters of officer misconduct within the department.
Additionally, LPD shared the following statistics on Domestic Violence Offenses throughout October-December from 2021-2022.
Signs of abuse
Garcia highlighted that there are several indicators that a person is experiencing abuse, with isolation and consistent controlling behavior being huge red flags, whether the abuse occurs within a dating or marital relationship, or within a family dynamic. These behaviors, if not addressed early on, can turn into sexual abuse and more.
In most domestic violence cases, victims are afraid to speak out for various reasons, such as fear of retaliation, concern for their safety and the belief that no one will believe them. But Garcia said there are safe ways to get help. Beyond their ongoing work, WPS donates gifts and food to families around the holidays, not only as a means of support but as a way of saying “we are here” to lift victims up “financially, physically and spiritually.”
Resources and services for domestic violence victims
Women’s Protective Services is available 24/7, 365 days a year to provide food, shelter and other resources for women and children in need of safety. The WPS Hotline is (806) 747-6491.
Voice of Hope serves those affected by sexual assault and sex trafficking. Their number is (806) 763-7273.
Open Door provides resources to people in poverty, homelessness and sex trafficking.
The Hub City Outreach Center, whose mission is empowerment through preventative education, has multiple resources to help people in all kinds of situations.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE and can connect DV victims with more local resources.