Does domestic violence really rise during the holiday season?

It is claimed the world over that domestic violence rises during the holiday season, but is it true.

VICE reports that perhaps it isn’t:

As they often do, local media outlets in several states warned of a spike in domestic violence this holiday season. The phenomenon is not confined to the United States. Last January, for instance, London’s Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe told the Daily Mail that an increase in domestic violence injuries in the last quarter of 2013 “could be linked to Christmas,” elaborating, “You can imagine that when people are at home more there is more opportunity for domestic situations.”

Yet despite many-a-tale about the dark side of the celebratory season marking the end of each year, interviews with advocates focused on reducing domestic violence suggest the idea that people are more likely to abuse their loved ones during the holidays is a myth.

Actually, the opposite may be true.

According to Norma Mazzei, Operations Director at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), “We have data that supports the opposite. We do not have an increase in calls during holidays—in fact, sometimes it’s a little bit decreased.”

Mazzei and others close to the issue share a general consensus that domestic violence does not increase nationally over the holidays, even if it might in a handful of places at specific times.


“Although there continues to be a common perception that domestic violence increases during the holidays, available research on such a link is still limited and inconclusive,” a2014 report from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence reads. “Information on the number of calls received by the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) for the past ten years indicates that the number of calls drops dramatically during the holidays, including on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.”

Pentico said a rise in domestic violence often actually occurs after the holidays, “when everything’s settled down a bit.”

Despite the data, because holiday traditions involve familial gatherings, financial stress, and alcohol consumption, the idea that domestic violence spikes under these conditions has a tempting logic to it.

Michelle Kaminsky, chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau under Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, said that her district did not see a rise in domestic violence over the holidays from 2011-2013, and offered one possible factor—”What the holidays are supposed to be about: family, togetherness, happiness”—to help explain why spikes do not occur, and violence may even go down.

Kaminsky said the assumed festive nature of the holidays could play a role in either discouraging reporting of violent incidents, or encouraging good behavior in abusive relationships. “I don’t know what the numbers mean. It could be that people aren’t reporting, and in fact violence is going on,” Kaminsky said, adding the caveat, “It could be that people are on their best behavior during the holidays. It’s really hard to say.”


Rather than espouse misguided concern that domestic violence may increase over the holidays, it’s better to consider how to support victims during a trying time of the year.

Pentico notes that because one in four women experience intimate partner violence in their lifetime, it is important to “be careful what you say” around the holidays, when relatives may be victims silently struggling with pain and tough decisions. “As women, we say, ‘If a man ever hits me, I’m out of here’ as a statement of power. But what it tells women who have been hurt is, I’m better than you… something is flawed with you.

“I think people always say ‘Why does she stay?’ And we’re not asking ‘Why does he hit her? If he dislikes her so much, why doesn’t he leave?'”

The answer, Pentico said, is “[Abuse is] effective… He’s gaining something by staying.”

“The big picture is, you know, patriarchy,” said Pentico. Not the holidays.

Yeah, my belief is that violence, whether it is physical, mental or financial, is all about control.

Same goes when relationships end, one or other partner tries to use children as the cudgel to beat the other with. I have seen it too many times with friends, where either the woman or man use the kids to get back at their now ex-partner. People who do that are gutless and insecure, just as much as those who use access to dogs or kick in the doors of homes in the leafy suburbs are gutless and insecure.




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  • Teletubby

    Ah yes but it’s all good if the dogs can get name suppression, for their own protection of course.

  • Tippex

    That incredibly powerful scene. Still uncomfortable viewing.

  • Wendy

    Men who use their economic, social and/or physical power to intimidate or cause harm to their partners or ex partners are vile, insecure small men who deserve to be outed for their disgusting behaviour.

  • Des

    I am guilty of thinking “why doesn’t she leave” when I read of domestic violence. Simply because that is the most effective way of taking away the “power” the male has in this instance. There’s no point fighting and saying the male should leave, as that will only add fuel to the fire. Get yourself out of there, safe, then name and shame the creep to his friends, family and Police.

    • Wendy

      I asked him to leave. He laughed in my face.

      How does one leave when you have children and nowhere to go to…no family support, no money and no income because he wont let you work, and there is DPB stand down period of something like six weeks?

      It takes more to leave an abusive relationship than some women can muster.

    • Pharmachick

      Because a lot of these women have no jobs (not by choice) and have kids to raise and feed. They *literally* have nowhere to go and no income and the stand-down time for assistance is really long. And before you raise it, yes I understand that Women’s Refuge and others like the Sallies can help, especially in major towns/cities but not so much in smaller centres. Also, its all well and good fleeing to relatives until 1) they physically drive the abused back to the abuser and/or 2) the abuser turns up on the relations’ doorstep screaming and breaking windows (as examples). Need I add that this is happening against a backdrop where entitled bludgers refuse state houses as not good enough (or, more commonly wreck them), terrorize neighbourhoods and constantly put their hands out. Plus the genuinely abused are terrorized and terrified.

      • Des

        It’s horrible that so many people turn a blind eye to this type of behaviour.

  • Monty Bank

    But, let’s not forget women are violent too. Woman on man violence is, like other domestic violence, under-reported. Men who have been assaulted by women are far less likely to report it, and there’s precious few resources for men like women’s refuge.

    I have been set upon myself by an angry woman, after suffering a few scratches I ran away. That’s because my parents absolutely forbade me to hit my sister. In later life she threw a knife at her husband, it missed him and stuck in a door where it stayed for a couple of days, he refused to touch it, she had to remove it herself. They’re still married almost 40 years later.

    It looks like boys aren’t taught self-control as we were. A good caning helped.

  • Steve (North Shore)

    That clip is disturbing, but true. We should all ask uncle Hone about this, and how much koha is needed to fix it