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Domestic Violence Doesn't Take a Holiday

Survivors can face an increased risk during the holiday season

  • December 15, 2014
  • By domesticshelters.org
Domestic Violence Doesn't Take a Holiday

This year, as you hang the twinkling lights and decorate your mantel with sprigs of holly, remember that not everyone has gotten the message that it’s a season of peace. Unfortunately, the holidays can be an even more dangerous time than normal for those at risk for domestic violence.

From the financial stress of gift buying to an overall increase in alcohol consumption, to a flurry of emotions—and sometimes stress—that accompany a plethora of family togetherness time, there are many reasons why the chance of intimate partner violence can increase during the holidays. While there is no national study to measure the exact stats on holidays and domestic violence, says The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, they do point out that law enforcement agencies in many cities have noted more domestic violence reports on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day than on other days.

However, The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports a decrease in calls—nearly 53 percent fewer—on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Whether survivors don’t want to disturb family cohesiveness on these days, or can’t find a private time to make a call for support, advocates say the decline isn’t necessarily an indication that violence ceases on these days, reporting that calls will often increase above normal levels the days and weeks following a holiday. Many times, say advocates, survivors of abuse don’t want to disturb family rituals or separate children from their family during a holiday, regardless of abuse that may be occurring.

What can you do? If you’re currently in a violent relationship, reach out to domestic violence nonprofit, The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE (7233); it is  available 24/7. And, remember, you don’t need to figure out an escape plan right away—you can simply call to talk. Or if you like reading first, there are many short articles covering domestic violence topics on this site. If you can’t call safely from home, call from a trusted friend’s house, your doctor’s office or a public library.

If you suspect someone in your life is the victim of an abusive relationship, watch for red flags, such as possessiveness, rigid gender roles, and overt control of deliberately humiliating one’s partner in front of others. To support a victim, The Hotline advises friends and family members be non-judgmental and supportive. “Don’t tell them what they need to do. Don’t badmouth the abuser. It’s also important to remember that friends and family should take precautions to make sure they remain safe. Sometimes when word gets back to the abuser that a friend or family member is offering advice or asking questions about the abuse, they could be putting themselves in danger.”