JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Officials with the Craighead County Sheriff's Department and Women's Crisis Center said Tuesday domestic violence tends to increase during warmer weather. So far this year, Craighead County has worked 20 domestic violence cases compared to 27 the year before; however, Jonesboro Police reported 342 domestic incidents from January through June this year, up 61 from the year before.
"Anytime there's a domestic, emotions are running high. There's normally alcohol involved. That's dangerous for the officer and dangerous for the participants," said Sheriff Jack McCann.
McCann said he's an advocate for people to get out of abusive relationships. He told Region 8 News Tuesday abusive relationships can get more heated during extreme temperatures.
"Now the heat would be a major factor and most people that are involved in domestic problems quite often are alcohol abusers, then you mix that with the heat and the emotions, and things just get out of control," said McCann.
McCann said the county has worked more domestic cases in January this year than any other month. The temperatures in January were much colder, and domestic calls were more common.
"I think a lot of it is just security. There's abuse on both sides. The wife gets abused. The husband gets abused and a lot of it is security. They just don't want to leave that income, the home. There are normally children involve. To me, that's the worst thing because children that are raised in that environment tend to be abusers when they grow up," said McCann.
According to the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 45% of all emergency room procedures among women involve injuries from abusive relationships.
"Bills are higher now, that's stressful. Children are out for the summer, that can cause stress, just stresses cause this," said Deputy Jeania Burns.
Burns said it's standard protocol for the sheriff's office to send 2 deputies to the scene of a domestic case. Officers don't know if one person has a weapon and are unsure of that person's state of mind.
"They are dangerous situations. Emotions are always skyrocketed, high because of the relationship between the two parties involved," said Burns.
Burns has worked multiple domestics throughout her career at the Craighead County Sheriff's Department.
"Sometimes they hide. Sometimes there's a weapon involved. There are children usually, not real sure what's going on but they know that the parents are fighting and it's not a good situation," said Burns.
Burns said children who witness abusive relationships often grow up acting as the abuser. If a person abuses their partner, half of all cases end with child abuse as well.
"It's just horrible, especially on the children or the spouse because a lot of them are just abused to the point they have low self esteem. It just emotionally destroys them," said McCann.
McCann also said families with money problems seem to participate in abusive relationships. Families become stressed out when money runs short. If one person doesn't have a job, then the abuser tends to get annoyed.
"When it's hot out, we see more crimes in all areas but there's drinking involved. There's holidays. People just get together more and problems escalate," said Burns. "The mom wants to keep the family together. They think they need their father and a lot of times, the male is apologetic afterwards. Maybe they've lived with it so long, you know, this is the way they've been brought up, their father was like this to their mother. That's all they know."
Both Burns and McCann expressed sympathy for children. One reason the penalties for domestic abuse and sexual assault are severe is what it does to the family atmosphere.
"It's got to stop at some point. If the children are seeing this, if they think it's okay then it's just going to keep occurring," said Burns.
There is help for people suffering from abusive relationships. Scroll down to find the domestic violence shelter nearest you.
According to the Women's Crisis Center in Jonesboro, women can call 1-866-982-9574 or 1-870-933-9449. The Women's Crisis Center uses its hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The center says it's able to assist women and children suffering from sexual abuse and domestic abuse. Men who feel abused can also find help by calling the crisis center. Officials said they can refer men to the proper authorities.
The ACDV said women are primary victims because they tend to be more submissive than their male counterparts.
"There are some men victims, the statistics are lower that there will be men victims, but they're less likely to report it," said Blair Pieroni with the Women's Crisis Center.
Pieroni said most relationships that turn abusive are long-term and the victim feels as if they can't escape. In many cases, Burns said the victim and abuser want the other person to stay out of trouble.
"They want the power and control over somebody. They choose to abuse, you know. It's not any chemical imbalance that they have or anything like that. They choose to be that way," said Pieroni.
Pieroni said the only reason for domestic abuse is because the abuser chooses to act. Other instances, such as alcohol consumption, trigger the violence.
"There are financial instabilities, you know, right now we're in this economic downturn, and that's a big problem but it's not a reason for abuse. It contributes to the abuse but it's not why they abuse," said Pieroni.
If you're in an abusive relationship and have suffered from verbal abuse or violence, Pieroni urges you to open up to the proper authorities.
"I think it's important. A lot of women aren't aware of these services, a lot of women feel that they're alone in these situations and there's not help for them out there. A lot of the women that come in here come with just the clothes on their back and their children and that's it," said Pieroni.
Domestic Violence Shelters/Northeast Arkansas