Domestic violence advocates say pandemic made things worse for victims

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Fifty-year-old Curtis Holliday is charged with killing his 29-year-old wife Chi Le and allegedly stuffing her in his workplace freezer.

According to court documents, there were warning signs. Holliday had been violent against Le at the end of 2019 and violated a protective order in April, around the same time she disappeared.

Domestic violence advocates say the pandemic has made things worse for victims.

"There are families who are living a nightmare. They're literally doing that. And, the abusers are in the home with the victim. They don't have anywhere to go due to the restrictions that we have on us. Our movements are limited," CEO and Founder of Gustavia Pearls Women's Outreach Trina Russell said.

Violence struck again Thursday night on Barker Cypress in west Houston. A man burst into an apartment, kicked the bedroom door down before he shot and killed a woman. A 4-year-old child was hit with debris but will be okay. Detectives are looking for an ex-boyfriend of the victim, but say it's too early to know if he's a suspect.

"This is my second domestic violence related homicide in the last couple weeks. Naturally, when you get people together in quarantine for long periods of time, sometimes tempers flare," HPD Sgt. Michael Casso said.

Despite how it may seem, the Houston Police Department says domestic violence homicides are actually down. Of the 129 murders from Jan. to June 2019, 20 of those were classified as domestic violence.

Of the 171 murders from Jan. to June 2020, 14 of those were classified as domestic violence

"We have so many non-profits and organizations right here in the city of Houston, where they can call and they'll patch you in to that person that you can have a conversation with and they can safely tell you how you can leave out of a situation," Russell continued.

Russell says there are warning signs things could turn violent. Your partner or spouse is: possessive, promotes isolation, wants to cut you off from your family and friends and tries to strip your identity. If you see any of that or are being abused: "Please. Get out, get away, get to a safe place and don't go back," Russell said.

If you're a domestic violence victim or know someone who is, don't feel embarrassed or alone. Speak up. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is: 1-800-799-7233.

If you're in Houston, you can get help at a number of places like Houston Area Women's Center or The Bridge Over Troubled Water

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