ECTOR COUNTY, Texas (Big 2/Fox 24) – Ector County deputies received a higher volume of calls for sexual assault during the recent winter storm. Experts say stress can trigger abusers to act out, while external factors, such as the storm, can make it harder for victims to escape the abuse.
“When people are in their home together, and the victim cannot get away, then it just creates more of that time and opportunity,” said Gabriela Spurger with Crisis Center of West Texas.
Within a span of less than two weeks, the Crisis Center received 11 reports of sexual assault and domestic abuse from Ector County.
“This right after COVID… I mean everybody has been confined to their houses for so long,” explained Shirley Hardee with ECSO.
Hardee says it is the stress. Many lost their jobs and are unable to provide for their family.
“And so, it just makes for that hectic and turmoil situation.”
According to Spurger, many abusers feel the need to regain control. They use many different types of abuse to prey on victims. Experts call it the “Power and Control Wheel.”
“Economic abuse on the victim, or financial or emotional abuse, verbal abuse… tend to rise especially during a winter storm,” said Spurger.
The Ector County Sheriff’s Office sees about one sexual assault case each week. During this past winter storm, they responded to three.
“Probably a lot go unreported. Especially if it’s a spousal issue, because it’s their husband they don’t want to report it. Or it’s their boyfriend.”