Domestic violence is on the rise in Harris County amid stay home order

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- Within five days, the Harris County District Attorney's office filed at least 139 domestic violence related charges.

Those charges include assault of a family member, assault of a family member via choking or impeding breathing, assault of a pregnant person, continued family violence and terrorist threat to a household.

Of those 139 people, 72 remain in jail. The other 67 have been released on bond.

Since the stay-home order was issued, the number of calls has increased for law enforcement and shelters.

"It is hell to be at home with an abuser and to be quarantined with an abuser," Emilee Whitehurst, president of the Houston Area Women's Center (HAWC), said.

The center has seen a 40-percent increase in domestic violence calls and an increase in the calls for people needing shelter.

Their shelter can typically hold 120 people, but because of social distancing requirements, they have capped occupancy at about 100.

They are putting victims in hotels if they need more space, which Whitehurst said they have always done, but are having to rely on more heavily now.

"We saw after Hurricane Harvey a 45-percent increase in homicides due to domestic violence and we do not want to see that happen this time," Whitehurst said.

On Friday, Houston Police said a 24-year-old man is accused of stabbing his mother to death while she cooked. Hours later, deputies say a father shot his son during an argument outside their home.

"Just remember that if you call us, we will be there," Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo said. "We're operating on all eight cylinders, and to the children that might be in situations, again, where they may be facing an abusive situation at home, please call us. We will come, and we will protect you."

HAWC said even if you do not think leaving your home is possible right now, they can help you come up with a safety plan.

"They can still call, and I want people to know that," Whitehurst said. "Please, find the time to call us, when you can find a time that you're not going to be listened to."

Advocates at HAWC can be reached at 713-528-2121.
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