Thursday morning I popped onto KCBD.com, because a day earlier I witnessed five or six police cars just blocks from my home. It was an unusual time to see that much activity; I saw the vehicles around 1 p.m., the incident had occurred at 11 a.m. As I drove back to work, I thought to myself automatically: 'I hope she's okay.'

Sadly, my hunch was correct -- it was a domestic dispute. And while no one died in that incident, one person has serious injuries. The details of this particular incident are a little bizarre, as she was injured leaving the house in a car accident. I truly hope she's ok, even though I never met this neighbor. Just 12 hours earlier, another person lost their life in a domestic dispute in a separate incident.

This is heartbreaking enough, but hearing the news anchor I've heard my entire life, Abner Euresti, say, "bringing the homicide count in Lubbock to 35 for the year 2020," my heart just sunk into the pit of my stomach.

What has happened to my hometown? Thirty-five homicides is more than double the total of 16 last year. That number was exceeded way back in May. Sixteen homicides was already high compared to previous years (the average of the proceeding years since 2005 being right under 11).

Of course, 2020 has every reason to be an outlier year for homicides in Lubbock. It's an outlier in every other way imaginable. And while I can only speculate on the reason for such a sharp increase, I imagine it has a lot to do with COVID-19-related stressors.

Overwhelming stress leads to desperation, and desperate people sometimes lash out in horrific ways. I cannot help but sink into sadness thinking of every victim that is cooped up with their abuser, with even less ability than normal to escape the violence.

Some may ask why those victims don't just leave out of ignorance of how those relationships work. They don't leave because they are intimidated. They don't leave because they've been ground down into hopelessness. They don't leave because children or finances or shelter are involved. They don't leave because they know if they do, that person will hunt them down. I am living proof you can leave, but I understand completely how luck played into my survival.

Abuse aside, I've seen even the healthiest relationships strain during this time. We're all packed tightly into a powder keg, and even the smallest match can set everything into a fiery explosion.

While I don't have the answers to this huge, dark, awful problem, I can share some resources. If you're in immediate danger, you must call 9-1-1. If you're in an abusive situation, I'm begging you to contact Women's Protective Services. The name is a misnomer; they provide services for children and men as well. Sadly, anyone can be a domestic violence victim.

In all seriousness, if you were looking for a sign to take action, let this be that sign. This is on my heart to write for a reason. WPS will give you the tactics and resources to get out safely. Please, save your own life because the situation will not simply blow over or get better.

Additionally, I want to mention two other resources. If you are so stressed you cannot control your emotions, you are having a mental health crisis. Again, this can happen to anyone. Work2BeWell from Covenant is a free hub of many mental health resources and crisis line links. If you're immediately suicidal, go to the ER. If you're having passive thoughts of suicide, known as suicidal ideation, call the crisis line at 1800-273-8255.

Whatever you can do to take care of yourself, please do. And keep hope, because our biggest enemy in this life is the lack of it.

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