Domestic Violence and the Holiday Season

There is no definite research that states domestic violence increases during the holiday season, however that does not mean domestic violence is not present during the holidays.

The holiday season is vastly approaching. Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year's celebrations are just around the corner. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence from the National Domestic Violence Hotline in 2013 there were numerous calls made to the hotline regarding domestic violence incidences during the holiday seasons. Typically the National Domestic Violence Hotline acquires 675 calls per day. However during the holiday season the estimated number of calls varied. On Thanksgiving 438 calls were received. On Christmas Eve the number increased to 503 and on Christmas Day 381 calls were received. During New Year's Eve 546 calls were taken and on New Year's Day 570 calls were reported (Once Again: Does Domestic Violence Increase Over the Holidays, Adams, 2013).

There is no definite research that states domestic violence increases during the holiday season however that does not mean domestic violence is not present during the holidays. David Adams, Psychologist and Co-Founder and Co-Director of Emerge - an abuser education program and national training center on domestic violence, stated "domestic violence is more likely to occur when there is more contact between the abuser and the victim," (Once Again: Does Domestic Violence Increase Over the Holidays, Adams, 2013). Domestic violence crimes occur more often at night, on weekends and during the summer. Also the violence can more likely to occur in the home rather than in a public setting.

The holiday season can bring many stressors that become present such as "financial pressures, unrealistic expectations and increased consumption of alcohol," stated Nancy Vega, MA., LPC, author of Domestic Violence and the Holidays: A Survivor's Guide. According to Ms. Vega "domestic violence is more likely to occur when stress levels are high" (Vega, 2016).

What can you do to address some of these stressors to assure your holidays are happy and safe experiences? One positive way to combat the holiday stressors is to set realistic expectations and to not feel devastated if there are failures. You might be one of the millions of people who take part in those Black Friday sales. If so, don't get frustrated if the item you want is gone. Create a list with second and third choices. Shopping habits or the desire to please family members can also lead to serious financial challenges. Another positive way to decrease stress is set your budget for those months. Know what you can afford to spend shopping and set aside what is required for the regular monthly bills. By developing a holiday budget and a plan of action the stress of overspending can decrease. At times people can use alcohol as a way to cope with holiday stress. However, using alcohol as a way to combat the holiday stressors is not healthy. Seeking further assistance such as Alcoholics Anonymous or speaking with a counselor can help individuals handle the stress of the holidays (Vega, 2016). NATIVE HEALTH has a super Continuing Care group that meets on Thursday nights at 6pm.

We want you to enjoy all the good things the holidays bring, but if you have experienced domestic violence or feel you might be in a situation where you are seeing an increase in the risk for violence to occur make a plan. The first plan is that hopefully you will never need to use it, but the second is having a safety plan in place as well as a safety kit which can help victims exit a dangerous situation very quickly. A safety kit includes many essential items including: emergency numbers, clothing, toiletries, important documents such as birth certificates, driver's license, medication, cash, car and house keys. You want to keep in a place where only you know its location.

The NATIVE HEALTH Victim's Services Case Manager can assist you in building your safety kit or even just to talk about your situation. She can be reached at (602) 279-5262, x 3210 or email: ASieweyumptewa@nachci.com