Domestic violence does not stop for the holidays. In fact, the added stress of hosting large gatherings, navigating extended family dynamics, the strained finances that may come with gift-giving, and higher than usual alcohol consumption can add to the tension in an abusive relationship.
At Women Against Abuse, we tend to see instances and severity of domestic violence spike after a major holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, in part because there is added pressure to keep the peace on the actual holiday itself while in front of guests. Then once guests leave, the tension that has been building up is more likely to escalate into violence.
This is why it is so important for people experiencing relationship abuse to put a safety plan in place. A
safety plan is simply a plan to stay safe. It may mean leaving an abusive partner, or it could mean taking steps to keep yourself and your kids safe within your home. Strategies like:
- Avoiding rooms with weapons – such as the kitchen – during an argument.
- Talking to your kids about what to do if you are being attacked.
- Leaving a “go-bag” packed with essentials, like medication, passport, or immigration documentation with a trusted friend.
- Arranging a signal with your neighbor if you need help.
- Becoming aware of domestic violence services you can call on for help, whether you’re spending the holidays at home or planning to travel.
Each situation is unique and different, so we encourage anyone experiencing relationship abuse to call the Philadelphia Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-866-723-3014 for counseling and support specific to their situation. Hotline counselors are available 24/7 to help callers create a safety plan, no matter where a person may be in their journey. Counselors can also connect callers with local resources, such as emergency shelter and legal aid. Translation services are available for callers in any language, and all calls are free and confidential.
Want to learn more? Visit our website at WomenAgainstAbuse.org, and join us next month for a look at barriers to breaking free from an abusive relationship. You can also find more information specific to safety planning during the holidays at https://www.thehotline.org/resources/safety-planning-for-the-holidays/.
This is the third in a monthly series by Women Against Abuse that will share information about domestic violence, the local resources that are available, and how to be an advocate for healthy relationships in your family.