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Domestic violence increases during the holidays

St. Joseph News-Press - 12/3/2023

Dec. 3—The holidays are a time many look forward to, but for some, it can be the scariest time of the year.

Studies show that domestic abuse and violence increase around major holidays including Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's. Reasons for the uptick include mood changes related to winter weather, stress from finances, abusers partaking more frequently in alcohol or drugs or simply a result of perpetrators being around victims more than at other times of the year.

"When we get into the holidays, a lot of time we think about just the good times and laughter that everyone can have but when you consider some of the stress that comes along with the holidays, it's really tough," said Danielle Brown, CEO of St. Joseph'sYWCA. "This time of year can be stressful on many and, unfortunately, sometimes abusers will choose to take that frustration out on the victim."

Police intervention related to domestic violence rises about 20% during December nationwide, YWCA officials said. People also are two times more likely to experience domestic violence on New Year's Eve or New Year's Day.

Brown said the best thing for victims to do is try and have a plan.

"Knowing you're going to be in a social gathering with someone who may be abusive is one more stressor added onto the victim," she said. "Having an escape and safety plan is so important and that's what we assist with here. You can call into our hotline and speak with one of our advocates to discuss a safety plan, have a packed bag ready to go or a little money set aside and maybe even an excuse as to why you can't attend the gathering. This could all be the lifesaver to not be in a dangerous situation at all."

Escaping a domestic violence situation is more challenging than some would expect, which is why resources are available through organizations like the YWCA shelter for abuse.

"We strongly encourage victims or someone who knows a victim to reach out through our hotline at 1-800-653-1477 and talk with our advocates," Brown said. "Whether you want someone to talk to just to explain your situation or maybe you're not ready to take the next step, letting someone know and knowing you're not alone is the next step."

Victims also can stop by the YWCA at 304 N. Eighth St. in person to discuss options if they have concerns about speaking over the phone.

Jenna Wilson can be reached at jenna.wilson@newspressnow.com.

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