Domestic violence spikes during the holidays

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- On Christmas Eve, a Porterville Police officer shot and killed a man who was suspected of domestic violence at his grandmother's house.

Sunday afternoon, a Merced man was arrested on murder charges in the death of his 23-year-old girlfriend. And on Monday morning, Fresno County Sheriff's Deputies arrested a man for allegedly shooting his fianc to death.

While domestic violence occurs year-round, Marjaree Mason Center Executive Director Genelle Taylor Kumpe says more women and children seek help during the holidays. "We have New Year's Eve coming up, more alcohol is being served, it's also being consumed, so we do see an increase of clients coming through the doors," she said.

Besides the drinking, Kumpe says there are other factors. A lot of times, families have unrealistic expectations for how the holidays should play out. And abuse includes physical, emotional, as well as sexual.

The victim has to make the decision to leave the abusive relationship, but oftentimes they won't because they fear the situation will get worse or they simply want to keep the family together.

Ironically, if they don't leave, the situation often will get worse. "Just ask them, are you OK?" Kumpe said. "If you think or suspect there's anybody abuse there or know, just let them know the Marjaree Mason Center is here for them."

"It doesn't necessarily take the victim to make a call to have us investigate that incident," said Fresno Police Sgt. Chris Serrano. "It can be as well as an anonymous call for us to go to respond and investigate that household to ensure the safety first and foremost of the victims and also of the children involved in that household."

Fresno police have responded to thousands of domestic violence calls this year, making up a majority of those coming in to the department. "It's a pattern of violence a cycle that has been accepted through the victims and the suspects, which ultimately sometimes turns into a tragedy," Serrano said.

To prevent tragedies like the ones in recent days, Serrano says there are resources available, like their victim advocates from the Marjaree Mason Center. The center itself has a 24-7 hotline: 559-233-HELP.
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