LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — This is the season for families to gather with one another.
"The reason for the season is good tidings and cheer," said Derek Jones, executive director of the Union Rescue Mission.
However, he added that things aren't always so loving and peaceful for some.
Historically, the organization sees an uptick in victims of domestic violence around this time of year.
"It tends to begin right around Thanksgiving and then through the first of the year," Jones said.
Thanksgiving, New Years', and even the Super Bowl are high-stress times of year that can trigger a domestic violent situation.
"We do believe that's because of the addiction issues, the misuse of drugs and alcohol, [and] the substance abuse disorder," Jones explained.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 37.3% of Arkansas women and 35.6% of Arkansas men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner in their lifetimes.
In 2021, 45 Arkansas women, men, and children were killed in a domestic violence homicide, according to the Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
"If a woman is fleeing a domestic violence situation, we provide 72 hours of emergency shelter for them," Jones explained.
Beyond that, he said the organization provides a nine-month program at no cost where victims can receive treatment to help move forward.
"We're treating, not just the domestic violence, but we're looking at the childhood sexual abuse. We're looking at the trauma, we're looking at the anger issues," Jones explained.
He said that the holiday uptick is also creating an issue— currently, there are 45 women and children in the Dorcas House, one of the shelters for victims.
"Right now, we are full [and] we have a full waiting list," Jones said.
Despite that, he said that they're rearranging and clearing out space to continue to serve those who are looking for a better situation.
"We're just trying to stand in the gap and love on people and meet their needs, right where they're at," Jones said.
The organization is building four houses in Jacksonville which will create more space for those fleeing an abusive situation.
They are always looking for donors, and you can contact them at 501-374-4022 or urmissionlr.org.