It's the holidays and although it is considered the most wonderful time of year, it is also the most stressful. The increased stress of buying presents, preparing dinner, and arranging family gatherings can heighten the likelihood of arguments among families. About Twenty Americans are victims of domestic violence each minute, but those numbers increase during the holiday season. Due to societal pressure, men feel a responsibility to be the breadwinners and providers of their families. If they are unable to fulfill that role, anger can fester. His anger then is projected on families and puts women and children at risk for violence and tragedy.
Many do not have the insight of what battered women and children experience during the holiday season. Whether they live with their abuser or have left, they are in danger - more so around Christmas time. They are in fear of their batterer's actions so they must take precaution to attempt to reduce conflict. This is in the hope that the abuser will not escalate his behavior and use force and aggression against them. This manifests whether or not the woman lives with her batterer.
It would be ideal that women and their children are able to leave their abusive partners, however, it is not that simple. It is important for victims of domestic violence to avoid confronting a violent situation alone. Call your local police department so that they can intervene and hopefully avoid a devastating crisis. This is a sensitive subject because she could be at a greater risk after involving the police, however, safety should be the primary concern. Resources are available but if the abuse is kept in the dark, it is difficult to provide help and services. The joy of the holidays is tainted when there is news that a women was assaulted or murdered by her partner. Seeking help can give a family a more peaceful holiday.
Women and children who have left their partners are also at risk. Relocation and disconnection are great steps towards independence and safety, however, this does not eliminate the access that he may have to her family and friends. He may appear at her mother's doorstep for a holiday party or ask her friends where she will be for the New Years. At Good Shepherd Shelter, the women and their children cannot visit their loved ones on the holidays to prevent the possibility of their former partners finding them. Although this is not ideal, it is for their safety and well being. The holidays are supposed to be a cheerful time with family and friends but they can also be dangerous and tragic if not careful. His behavior can continue even after she leaves the relationship. Creating new traditions and anticipating risky situations will maintain the holiday spirit and keep families at ease.
If you are in a domestic violence situation, reach out to your community resources. If you are unsure of your safety, be unpredictable - find new ways to celebrate. This holiday season, we hope and wish for safety, peace and love for all families.