What Can We Do About Domestic Violence During the Holidays?
Release Date: 12/12/2016
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The holidays are often thought of as the most wonderful time of the year. However, for victims of domestic violence, the holidays can be a very dark and scary time.
This kind of abuse (whether it’s physical or sexual) is often more likely to occur when stress levels are high, and unfortunately holiday seasons bring their fair share of stresses. Unrealistic expectations, financial strain, and alcohol can increase stress, and lower inhibitions to domestic violence.
On Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day the National Domestic Violence Hotline reports a decrease in calls. Nearly 53 percent fewer. 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.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence - On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
It can be very difficult to spot an abusive situation.
The majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners. One study found 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home.
Some warning signs:
- Extreme jealousy,
- Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens,
- Sabotage or obstruction of the victim's ability to work or attend school,
- Controls all the finances,
- Embarrassment or humiliation of the victim in front of others.
Common suggestions for loved ones of those in abusive situations include:
- Don’t judge the victim (you are not in her situation).
- Don’t tell her that the abuser is a jerk, that you never liked him, etc. (That might drive her away or make her feel she has to defend him.)
- Listen and become a confidant – safe place, and affirming
- If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
- For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7 call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog on Safety Planning for the Holidays: http://www.thehotline.org/2015/12/safety-planning-for-the-holidays/
- Find domestic shelter near you: https://www.domesticshelters.org/
- If you’re a friend concerned about someone: http://ncadv.org/learn-more/friends-and-family
- List of 25 Ways to Help Those Experiencing Abuse.