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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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.