RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (ValleyCentral) — In the Rio Grande Valley, summer brings more than rising temperatures. As the heat increases, crisis centers across the RGV say family violence is also on the rise.
“There is an increase in violence during the summer and it doesn’t necessarily translate that they will seek out services right away,” said a licensed professional counselor at Family Crisis Center, Martha Sanchez.
The center helps victims of domestic violence during times of crisis in Cameron and Willacy Counties.
Sanchez said although there is an increase in violence during the summer, victims wait until after summer to seek assistance.
“With the summer what ends up happening is that they don’t have a routine and the kids stay at home and so it’s a lot harder for them to leave the house and to access the services,” said Sanchez.
Mujeres Unidas (Women Together) assists people in the Hidalgo and Starr County area and also said they see an increase.
“After the summer break, they realize that that’s just not something that’s possible and that their children are actually in danger and so that’s when they come to us and that’s when we start receiving the increase in calls right, right after the summer and right after the holidays,” said the community education program coordinator for Mujeres Unidas, Victoria De Los Santos.
She said there are several factors in the violence, including high temperatures.
“This heat that we’re going through also causes us to get in a mood that’s frustrating. Sometimes it’s just the fact that they’re not used to having children at home all day long,” said De Los Santos.
Sanchez explained that another factor in violence is the lack of resources such as food and childcare while kids are out of school for the summer.
“Instead of being able to handle it in a way that says ‘okay let me look out for other resources that are out in the community,’ they take it out and project it onto the kids or onto the spouse,” she said.
Evonne Lopez with Friendship of Women in Brownsville said the agency sees clients needing resources as well.
She said the organization received over 3,000 calls between June and August of 2021 and has received just over 1,000 calls since June 1.
All three agencies provide several services such as emergency shelters, counseling, and legal assistance.
“If you’re not ready to speak up during the summer because you’re too afraid of what’s going to happen then just know at any point, we’re ready. The best thing that we can suggest for you to do is never doubt to call 9-1-1,” said De Los Santos.