The Huffington Post
By Melissa Jeltsen
December 12, 2016
It’s a claim boldly asserted in local news stories each year: Domestic violence spikes during the holiday season. On the surface, the concept sounds plausible enough ― for many people, holidays are associated with family tension, crowded homes and copious amounts of alcohol. It follows that violence might increase under such stressful circumstances.
Yet, domestic violence experts say there’s no evidence to back that up, according to interviews conducted by The Huffington Post.
Rachel Goldsmith, associate vice president of domestic violence shelters at Safe Horizon, said that the organization also sees fewer requests for help during the holidays.
Domestic violence victims may feel societal pressure to keep their families intact around Christmas, she explained. Holidays are typically seen as a special time for celebrating families. Victims may feel guilty for not living up to cultural expectations, she said, and may try to stick it out a bit longer.
“We know that one of the prime reasons why people stay in abusive relationships is their children, ” she said. “During the holidays, there might be a lot of pressure to keep the family together, to have everyone there for a meal and to open presents.”
Victims may decide to reach out after the holidays if the violence continues, Goldsmith said.
But while there’s little evidence that domestic violence rises over the holidays, the season does pose specific challenges to victims and their families.