Domestic violence that occurs during the holiday season is less likely to be reported than at other times of the year. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean domestic violence incidents decrease; it’s simply a reflection of female victims desire to avoid disrupting holiday celebrations for their children sake.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports the volume of calls decrease on Thanksgiving and Christmas days; however, the group typically experiences a surge in requests for help soon after the holidays.
Increased stress levels and changes in routine mean families spend more time at home over the holidays and tensions can mount triggering episodes of violence. The real goal is to end abuse or to help victims escape violent environments and remain free from their abusers, but that may not happen immediately.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you also need to protect yourself until you take steps to leave. Below are safety tips that may help:
- Be aware of triggers that may cause your abuser to explode in anger and try to get out of the house beforehand
- Look for escape routes you can use in case of emergency
- Keep cash and a spare car key hidden
- Memorize emergency contact numbers
- Develop a code word to alert family and friends you are in danger and to call the police
- When arguments start, move to “safe” areas of the house with access to a phone and an outside escape route. Avoid kitchens (which are filled with potential weapons) and small, enclosed spaces such as bathrooms and closets
It isn’t easy to escape domestic violence during the holidays or at any other time. When you are ready to leave, contact your local domestic violence program, reach out to family and friends or talk with your gynecologist about available options and assistance programs.