Concern over parallel between abuse and financial stresses

By Donna McCollum - bio | email

NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - Carlton Edwards shot and killed his wife Donnie Mae early Thursday morning. The couple's children ran to a neighbor's house for help. It's the latest example of, what we're being told is, a growing number of domestic violence cases in East Texas.

History tells us the number of these cases goes up during tough economic times. In fact, Carlton's father said the couple may have been having financial troubles, and went as far to say that he expects to see more cases like this if the economy gets worse.

Local social service representatives are concerned about the parallel between abuse and financial stresses.

"It's a proven fact that people under a lot of stress and certainly with being without a job or having a problem at home certainly affects the way some people react to things," Sgt. Greg Sowell, with the Nacogdoches Police Department said.

The Women's Shelter of East Texas reports in the first half of 2009 a 145% increase in Angelina County victims seeking safe house services, compared to the entire year of 2008. Case managers cannot say if this is directly related to the economy. However, they tell victims to be aware that financial stress and it's effects could increase the level of violence.

"The victims are provided with safety planning and advanced safety planning," counselor Deidra Ware said.

Community Action, an energy assistance service agency is noticing an increase in the number of families sharing households due to job losses.

"Usually when they come in here and they're very aggressive toward me and sometimes it's because they're upset they have to seek help with us," Teresa Land, case manager with Community Action said.

Non-profit and professional counseling services provide help and referrals for people who fear they may snap.

"Walk away from the situation," advised Jennifer Pitman, counselor with the Burke Center. "Take a break. Take some deep breaths, if you need to take a break and come back to the situation or the conversation at hand."

If a pattern of violence develops, don't go to bed thinking it won't happen again. Seek anger management help for the protection of your entire family. If danger is apparent, call 911 and seek safety.

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