It’s common to think that domestic violence surges come the holidays. Stress, alcohol, and tensions around family members can create a perfect environment for verbal and physical abuse to occur. Many individuals only see family members during this special time of year, and those who have distanced themselves may allow an abusive parent or family member to see them just this once. While that seems like it can cause tensions to erupt again and cause more domestic violence during this time of the year, there is actually very little evidence to prove that around the holidays, more domestic violence occurs.

Brightly colored ornaments hanging on a tree

Physical Violence vs. Emotional Abuse

It’s important to denote the difference between physical abuse and emotional abuse. Physical abuse can often end with trackable hotline calls or intervention by police, whereas emotional abuse may not be reported at all. Many of us are familiar with underhanded compliments from family members, but others may experience a darker shade of insults hurled by siblings, parents, or other family members. This is why in this particular post it’s reasonable to assume if someone has distanced themselves from emotionally abusive family members and only sees them for one day of the year during the holidays, yes, there may be a “surge” in abuse, however we are just speaking about domestic violence, or the act of physically abusing someone.

Why isn’t there an uptick? Shouldn’t there be?

The idea of an uptick sounds like it logically makes sense. However, understanding the pattern of abuse can make you see why this logic is faulty. Those who harm others via domestic violence don’t necessarily wait until the holidays or special occasions to hurt another person. Instead, abusers often have a pattern of abuse and behaviors that they exhibit that ends in domestic violence. Behaviors of physical violence can fluctuate in frequency over the course of a span of a relationship. 

What do the metrics say?

According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the National Domestic Violence Hotline receives fewer calls over the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Take this date at face value, however. Physical abuse is often underreported and happens behind closed doors. It is possible that victims simply are not reaching out for help during the holiday time period, or abuse doesn’t occur in a visible manner due to family or friends being close by.

Shelters have reported that there are fewer total individuals seeking help from domestic violence over the holiday period as well. It is possible that victims may want to give their abuser a chance and keep their family together during the holiday season.

Abuse doesn’t take a day off

Whether or not domestic violence surges during the holiday season is yet to be proven in a meaningful manner, but the fact is that domestic violence still exists, and the holidays may be a difficult time for victims of domestic violence. If you are a victim of domestic violence and you need assistance during the holidays, don’t wait to call for help. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline today for resources to help you separate from your abuser: 1−800−799−7233