Harris County saw startling increase in deadly domestic violence cases, report shows

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A new report shows how much deadly domestic violence cases rose statewide, and in southeast Texas during the pandemic.

REPORT SHOWS HIGHEST NUMBER OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOMICIDES IN 20 YEARS

From 2019 to 2020, the Texas Council on Family Violence discovered there was a 23% increase in the number of domestic violence homicides across Texas.

"To be able to synthase and analyze the data at the end of this time period, and reflect on it and really attest to what the increases were was even startling to us," said Gloria Aguilera Terry, the CEO of Texas Council on Family Violence.

SEE ALSO: Study highlights link between the pandemic and the rise in domestic violence cases around Houston

It is shocking because the organization discovered more Texans lost their lives to domestic violence than they've seen before.

"The 228 Texans is the highest amount in the two decades that we've been doing this report," Terry explained.

Terry believes the pandemic played a role in the increase. Not only did the pandemic increase isolation, but it added economic issues.

"When you overlay those stressors over an unhealthy relationship, a relationship that already has coercive control, has aspects that are vulnerable to violence, then those stressors become accelerants," Terry explained.

HARRIS COUNTY LEADS THE STATE IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRIMES

The organization discovered Harris County led the state with domestic violence. In Harris County, domestic violence was up 40%. Family violence homicides grew by nearly 80% and more than half of those homicides involved a gun. And domestic violence crimes involving a gun rose by 21%.

"Harris County had 37 domestic violence homicides in the last year," Terry said. "Dallas had 22."

VICTIMS ARE UNAWARE OF ASSISTANCE

Terry says many victims don't know there's help.

"What people are most surprised with is what is available," Terry explained. "What support is available. This is not just happening to me. People are aware that this happens and that's why those resources are available for you."

Terry said the help also has to come from family and friends.

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"It's happening to people around you," Terry said. "Look out for those flags."

WARNING FLAGS OF A RELATIONSHIP THAT COULD BE VIOLENT

If you suspect someone is in a violent relationship, hold the aggressor accountable, offer words of encouragement. It's important to believe someone if they confide in you, and if they don't seek help right away it's OK.

Terry suggests people look for warning flags.

"When they're not allowed to see their family," Terry explained. "When they're not allowed to dress a certain way. They're not allowed to attend a family gathering. Those are all red flags that friends and family can look out for."

If you need help, or know someone who does, you can contact local agencies online, or reach them by phone at 713-224-9911.

For more updates on domestic violence data, follow Nick Natario on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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