There is a common belief that Domestic Violence Hotlines see an increase in calls during the holidays. That assumption makes sense when you consider the excess in alcohol consumption and stress among families during this time.
But in fact, studies show that most Domestic Violence Hotlines see a decrease in calls. But why? Remember that list of reasons a victim may stay with their abuser? If not, check out our blog “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave” Well, one of those was staying for the children. The holidays may exacerbate this feeling. The victim wants to keep things normal for the children during this time; make memories of a happy and peaceful family holiday. There may also be less private time to make a call for help. Some even believe the abuser hides their true colors when extended family is around. Whatever the reason, it does not mean that Domestic Violence stops during the holidays.
What we do know is that calls to Domestic Violence Hotlines usually increase to above average numbers by the new year. Here at Fort Bend Women’s Center, we saw a 46% call decrease last year during the holidays. Then after the holiday season, we noticed an above average increase in calls from victims needing help. Many other domestic violence hotlines report the same trend.
Domestic Violence by definition, is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. (National Domestic Violence hotline).
This tells us that Domestic Violence is usually not just an incident, it’s a pattern of behaviors. To break it down further: a pattern by definition is a repeated method, meaning it can ebb and flow and each abuser has their own pattern. A behavior by definition is the way in which one acts toward others. Power and Control can be displayed in many different forms.
While the victim may not have been physically hurt during this time in call drops, the abuser is still exerting power and control over them. From isolation to using the children to convince the victim to stay, there are various ways to accomplish their goal of power and coercion.
Although the statistics show a decrease in calls, we know Domestic Violence does NOT take a break during the holidays.
So, what can you do?
Listen. Support. Report. Repeat.
If you know someone who may be experiencing Domestic Violence, listen to them, support them by giving them our Hotline number 281-342-HELP, encourage them to report the abuser if they are in danger and continue to offer that support as they need it.
You can also help by giving back to survivors. Help us continue to give victims the tools to rebuild and live a life free of violence and fear. If you would like to help us to bring healing and hope to survivors this holiday season and after, please consider giving the GIFT OF HOPE . Together, we can end the cycle of violence.
(Source: National Domestic Violence Hotline)