Police link domestic violence to economy

HOUSTON - Police are encountering more domestic violence related to the sluggish economy, a national survey of law enforcement agencies finds.

In a survey of 700 law enforcement agencies around the country, more than half reported seeing an increase in domestic conflicts. That's up 40 percent from 2010.

The Washington-based law enforcement think tank Police Executive Research Forum conducted the study.

"You are dealing with households in which people have lost jobs or are in fear of losing their jobs," Executive Director Chuck Wexler said. "That is an added stress that can push people to the breaking point."

Houston Area Women's Center officials said they have seen a spike in their requests for services since 2009.

"We saw huge double-digit increases. But I think it's an indication that things are a little better here -- we've not seen the ongoing continuing year after year huge increases that we saw back then," said Rebecca White.

White said she does not believe a bad economy causes domestic violence, rather that it exacerbates it, leaving victims reluctant to walk away due to financial dependence.

"When there is less economic opportunity in the community, it keeps that victim tethered basically to their abusers for financial dependence," White said.

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