The holidays should be a happy time where you can get together with your family and friends, reconnect, and unwind. However, the holidays can also be a time of turmoil. In some situations, domestic violence increases over holidays, and it happens for a host of reasons.
There is no doubt that stress is a major factor when it comes to the increase in domestic violence. The holidays are always stressful as it seems like there is always so much to do and so little time. When you add the past two years of pandemic-related stress and worry, things get even worse.
People are suffering mentally, emotionally, and physically. Those who are prone to lash out at others when they feel this way tend to do so more often. Even people who weren’t quick to anger and who may not have shown signs of being abusive in the past may have reached their breaking point.
Financial worries are common no matter the time of year. It’s always stressful for a family that doesn’t have enough money to make ends meet. When it’s the holidays, there come certain societal and familial expectations. You want to make sure you have gifts for the kids. You need to have enough money to eat, pay the bills, and survive.
The pandemic caused financial distress for many people, but money problems around the holidays are nothing new. It has caused people to become frustrated, angry, and lash out because they feel “less than” when it comes to what they can do. All of the pressure they feel can increase incidents of domestic violence even in homes where it may not have occurred before.
Increased Use of Alcohol and Other Substances
Dues to the stresses mentioned earlier, some people try to find ways to relax. Unfortunately, they don’t tend to meditate or exercise. Instead, they look for a quick way to turn off their problems. They choose to drink and use drugs. Even though alcohol consumption is normally up during the holidays because people are off from work, at holiday parties, or enjoying a family gathering, it sometimes gets out of hand.
Using alcohol and other substances can alter moods and behaviors. Rather than making someone feel better or forget, it causes their stress and frustration to amplify. This could contribute to more domestic violence calls happening during this time of year.
Tension in the Family
When everyone is together for the holidays, it should be a time to celebrate family and friends. While it might start that way, after spending a lot of time together, whether it’s a few days or a tension-filled holiday dinner, tempers can rise. People might start arguing about politics or about not getting what they want for the holidays. They could say things about another person’s life or financial situation that can cause arguments to ensue. The holidays have the potential to become a powder keg that’s just waiting for a spark.
Sometimes, these situations can go from disagreeing to yelling to physical altercations rather quickly. The potential for violence is higher than some might assume, and it has turned deadly on more than one occasion. It seems that the Christmas season doesn’t go by without hearing at least one tragic story.
The holidays are also a time of isolation for many families. During the rest of the year, you aren’t stuck in the same location as the abuser. Now that the kids are on break from school and you and your spouse are off from work for a few days, the potential for abuse rises simply because it’s easier for abusers to isolate their families.
This year, like last year, fewer families are spending time with guests because of the pandemic. This means another year with even more isolation than normal. In a household that’s already dangerous because of an abuser, the holidays can turn into a nightmare.
All of the factors discussed above can cause a spike in domestic violence. This is especially true for those who are with partners who already have psychological disorders that tend to make it harder to handle stress and tension. The holidays tend to amplify these issues, which means abuse tends to happen more frequently.
It’s important to remember that even though these are some of the main reasons for the increase in domestic violence, they aren’t excuses. You can’t excuse abuse and violence. People should be capable of controlling themselves. These are merely the catalysts that are causing it to happen more often.
Regardless of how many times the abuse has happened, even if it’s just once, you need to get help. Abusers don’t suddenly change and get better. It takes a lot of work that most aren’t willing to do. The best course of action is to find a safe way out, and if you are currently in danger, call 911. Don’t put yourself or your kids at risk just to keep your abuser safe during the holidays.
Domestic violence is an all too real problem, an invisible pandemic that people don’t like to talk about. They know it happens, but they turn away or try not to think about it, telling themselves that it’s not their business. If they are a victim, they may try to look for the bright side of the relationship… if there is any bright side left.
The truth is that those who are living in these situations can’t turn away. It’s something they are living with and trying to survive. Fortunately, there is help available. National and local programs, along with shelters can provide a haven for those who are in danger. It may not be the way someone wants to spend their holidays, but it could save their lives and keep their children safe.
Those who are in Arizona may want to reach out to Winged Hope. They have programs that focus on preventing and healing family violence. Winged Hope offers direct victim services, family advocacy centers, and training about domestic violence across the state. Get the help you need and deserve.