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Holiday spike in domestic abuse, Baton Rouge leaders have answers

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BATON ROUGE - The holidays are a time to spend close with family, but for victims of domestic violence, this can also mean being trapped alone with abusers. Patti Freeman runs Iris Domestic Violence Center in Baton Rouge. 

Freeman says holidays come with an increase of domestic abuse reports. Part of the reason for the uptick is the added stressors during the season. She notes that if someone is already abusive, the added stress escalates the behavior.

"The stress level goes up. There are extra obligations like Christmas to pay for," Freeman said.

Also for victims, the abusers rash behavior means victims put on brave faces to get by. 

"I think they do put up with more, to just keep things peaceful in the home," she added. 

District Attorney Hillar Moore agrees there's an increase in domestic violence offenses and deaths during the holiday months. 

Though in Baton Rouge, the recent years' statistics have show overall decline. 

"We're trending down this year compared to the other years," District Attorney Moore said. "Three years ago we're at 32. Last year we were at 24. This year we're at 16."

Moore added that part of the reason for the high rate in abuse cases three years ago was the COVID-19 pandemic, confining people into their homes. 

Still, in 2023, both say there's a long way to go to make Baton Rouge safer. 

"If you're among 10 friends, there's somebody there who's been exposed to or endured abuse," Freeman said.

Freeman says Louisiana has one of the highest rates of domestic violence nationwide. 

"I think one of my biggest fears is when we hear of a new situation, especially those that end in a fatality, there is a gripping fear that it's somebody who came for our help and left for whatever reason," she said.

In Baton Rouge, Moore says a new domestic violence court could help alleviate the pain victims experience. 

"Hopefully, that judge will see the repeat offenders of domestic violence like you would in a drug court," Moore said.


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