Holiday Domestic Violence
The winter holidays are full of traditions: baking, decorating, gatherings and songs. Great meals, special gifts, and lights galore. Everywhere you look you see happy families full of love and expectation. But your family isn’t like the others you see. For you, the holidays are a time of fear. That’s because domestic violence always seems to escalate during this “joyous” time of year. It doesn’t matter how well you plan, how perfectly you arrange things; something always sets off your abuser.
Why does Violence Intensify?
There are many things that factor into the rising episodes of domestic violence during the holidays:
- In many families, increased alcohol consumption plays a part;
- Financial pressures are often overwhelming for breadwinners and other family members;
- Gatherings with extended family can be stressful when relationships are strained;
- The sheer number of engagements that crowd family calendars can be overwhelming;
- Added traffic, congestion in stores, and crowds everywhere can be nerve-wracking;
- Anxieties related to one’s inability to meet expectations can make one’s self-esteem plummet.
These and other stressors can pile on to an abuser’s psyche, turning what might otherwise have been a somewhat predictable routine into a field of landmines. Family members never know when the abuser will explode, or what minor incident will set off a rash of violence. Because we know that domestic violence is an expression of power and control, we can deduce that when an abuser starts to feel powerless in life, it exacerbates the need to exert power over family members. That makes the holiday season prime for domestic violence.
A Safety Plan for Victims
Knowing how explosive this time of year can be, the smart thing to do is to prepare for the worst. Number one: protect the kids. Children must be your number one priority. Prepare them for potentially dangerous situations by brainstorming ways to stay safe. Depending on their ages, you may want to create codes to indicate danger is brewing. Try to have a safe place they can escape to with little assistance from you if necessary. And above all, teach them to steer clear of violence when it does occur; they should never try to protect you. They should escape.
Once you’ve done everything possible to protect the children, focus on protecting yourself. Do what you can to reduce daily tensions, and try to hide enough money to get you away for at least a night or two if necessary. Also, be sure to familiarize yourself with local shelters should you need one.
If there’s no escaping the violence, now may be the time to have a protective order issued. The experienced Boca Raton domestic violence attorneys at WiseLieberman have your best interests at heart. We can help with protective orders and guidance for survivors of domestic violence. Schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.