What family doesn’t have some kind of conflict over the holidays? The combination of large family gatherings, increased alcohol consumption, and financial stress can bring out heated emotions in anyone. It is in these moments that it can seem like domestic violence might be more likely to occur. While this makes a lot of sense and is a valid concern, the research actually suggests a different answer.
Domestic Violence and the Holidays Studies
According to a 2014 report, the idea that domestic violence increases during the holidays can actually be a common myth. In fact, domestic violence might even decrease over the holidays. While available research is still limited and inconclusive, one particular study by The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence found that the number of calls received by the National Domestic Hotline for the past ten years indicates that the amount of domestic calls decreases during the holidays. One important difference might lie in the definition of “domestic violence.”
Kim Pentico of the National Network to End Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as “one persona’s intimidation and threats over another to gain and maintain power and control.” This might seem like a pretty generic and broad definition. This becomes most significant when it comes to reporting a criminal offense. When police report a violent crime, it will imply a relationship and not a pattern. However, on the report it will still be labeled the same, “domestic violence.”
Consider this example: Two brothers are home for the holidays, consume alcohol, find themselves in a violent fight, and the police are called in. When the police report the crime, it will be labeled as domestic violence regardless if it has been a pattern or just a one-time occurrence.
While the holidays is a good time to be reminded of the problem of domestic violence, it is important to remember that domestic violence can happen at any time, and any place. It is not subject to just holidays.
Pentico suggests that domestic violence is more likely to rise after the holidays. She stated in an interview with vice.com that it is “when everything’s settled down a bit” that the rise of domestic violence can occur.
When it comes to a patterned domestic violence, Michelle Kaminsky, the chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau under Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, explains the possibility of why holidays can actually decrease domestic violence. She shares that while holidays can bring those stresses out, it also bring “what the holidays are supposed to be about – family, togetherness, happiness.”
One possible sign that domestic violence is occurring is when the abuser works to isolate their victim – especially from family. Kaminsky suggests that the holidays might even “encourage good behavior in abusive relationships and even could be that people are on their best behavior.”
Pentico points out that it’s good to be aware that issues like stress and alcohol can increase a person risk of domestic violence, but that those reasons are not the causes.
It is when a victim attempts to leave a relationship that can be the most dangerous for them. This is when the power in the relationship is being threatened that causes the tension and cause the risk of abuse.
The nature of the holidays- wanting to make them special – might make victims less likely to leave a relationship and therefore might lower the risk of possible abuse. While in no way does a victim have control over being abused, this possible reason might give insight to the reason why domestic violence might not be as high on holidays as other times of the year.
Regardless of when domestic violence occurs it is still a crime. If you are a victim of domestic violence or have been charged with domestic violence in Michigan and need legal representation, please give our office a call. This is an area that we specialize, and we want to help serve you. At The David J. Kramer Law Firm, PLLC, we work hard to protect the rights of all our clients and want them to know they are not alone.
248-348-7400 or 586-530-1000