SALLISAW — More people call law enforcement in reference to domestic violence during the summer, a Sequoyah County official said.
Investigator Cindy Smith with the Sequoyah County Sheriff's Department said she usually sees an increase in domestic violence reports to her office during the summer months each year. While this includes any kind of violence in a family setting, Smith specifically pointed to adult physical abuse as the type of domestic violence that gets reported more during these months.
"I don't think the crimes go up. I just think you have more people around who are willing to call," Smith said.
Sheriff's officials, who cover about half of Sequoyah County's estimated population of 41,252, worked 10 confirmed domestic violence cases and five confirmed child abuse cases in May 2018. Though these numbers are not much higher than months at other times of the year, Smith said the number of reports, which aren't always confirmed following an investigation, usually spike around this time.
Though Smith said she she believes the prevalence of the crime — whether it gets reported or not — stays the same throughout the year, others say seasonal factors contribute to a legitimate increase in domestic violence. The Cherokee Violence Family Center in Canton, Ga. lists increased stress from children being around more frequently, hotter temperatures and more events involving alcohol as contributing factors to what it classifies as an increase in domestic violence.
Smith said events involving alcohol — specifically events in public places, like cookouts or lake outings — can increase the visibility of domestic violence. She also said children, who are home during the summer, can increase visibility as well.
"If mom and dad have a fight, they may call, whereas during the fall and the winter, they're at school. Nobody is home. It happened behind closed doors," Smith said.
The aftermath of domestic violence can often be seen in what a victim wears, Smith said. She said she has seen people wearing long sleeves during warm months to cover up their bruises after an incident and has even seen people wearing sunglasses at night to cover up black eyes.
On the other hand, the summer heat may also reveal domestic violence if the victim chooses to wear seasonal clothes, Smith said.
"The bruises are much more evident on their arms or their legs or things like that, where people may go, 'Hmm, I don't know what's going on there,'" she said.
Ultimately, Smith said she would like to see people keep reporting domestic violence if they think they see it. She said domestic violence should not be treated as a private matter, as its effects tend to manifest in the public sphere.
"Domestic violence affects everything about our society," she said. "It affects the amount of sick days a person takes. It affects the children and how they learn."