What family doesn’t have some conflict over the holidays? The combination of family gatherings, increased alcohol consumption, and financial stress can bring out heated emotions in anyone. Add the stress and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a storm could be brewing. It is in these moments that domestic violence might be more likely to occur.
Domestic Violence and the Holidays Studies
Available research is still limited and inconclusive. The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence reports the number of calls received by the National Domestic Hotline. The study indicates that the amount of domestic phone 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 defined domestic violence as “one person’s intimidation and threats over another to gain and maintain power and control.”
Although this definition might seem generic and broad, it becomes most significant when it comes to reporting a criminal offense. When the 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.”
Example of Domestic Violence Charges
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 domestic violence regardless of whether it has been a pattern or just a one-time occurrence.
While the holidays are 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. In an interview with vice.com, she stated that it is “when everything’s settled down a bit” that the rise of domestic violence can occur.
When it comes to 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 decrease domestic violence. She shares that while holidays can bring those stresses out, they 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 stress and alcohol issues can increase a person’s risk of domestic violence. However, those reasons are not the causes.
It is when a victim attempts to leave a relationship that can be the most dangerous for them. When the power in the relationship is threatened, it causes tension and the risk of abuse.
The nature of the holidays- wanting to make them special – might make victims less likely to leave a relationship. Therefore, the risk of possible abuse may be lowered.
In no way does a victim have control over being abused. However, this possible reason might give insight into why domestic violence might not be as high on holidays as other times of the year.
Domestic Violence and COVID-19
Michigan Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
Regardless of when domestic violence occurs, it is still a crime. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please seek help. If you have been charged with domestic violence in Michigan and need legal representation, please give our office a call.
The penalties in Michigan for a domestic violence conviction can be severe. At The David J. Kramer Law Firm, PLLC, we work hard to protect our clients’ rights. We want them to know they are not alone.