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We often picture the holidays as the best time of the year. These are a time to spend with loved ones and celebrate the joy of the season. However, for those who have gone through domestic violence, this time of year can be a bleak and terrifying time for them. With a heightened sense of unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and the increased consumption of alcohol, these things can create the perfect storm of stress that increases domestic violence incidents. 

High Expectations

Expectations always seem heightened during the holidays. You want to give the best gifts while showing off a perfect household. Balancing your time and getting along with your family can all seem like a juggling act. One slight hiccup can lead to it all crashing down. Often many can become stressed during this time while trying to live up to it all. When it fails, they feel devastated. In abusive relationships, the significant other can stress the victim, with the significant other becoming enraged and violent if things do not go according to plan.

Increased Gaslighting

With family coming into town, the significant other that is the abuser may turn to gaslight tactics. Gaslighting is when an abuser makes the victim question their reality, making them think that something that happened was their fault or the actions made by the abuser is the fault of the victim doing something the abuser did not like. Gaslighting is a common tactic of dictators and narcissists and has even been used by cult leaders in the past. Abusers often perform gaslighting tactics over time and can lead the victim to become brainwashed; they may even think that the events that happened were their fault.

Case Studies

A study conducted in 2005 by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence found higher than average domestic violence reports on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. This study found that there were about 2.4 times more reports than the average day. Another study from 2010 continued this trend of domestic violence reports on the same days.

How to Seek Help During the Holidays

As a victim, it may seem almost impossible to seek help during the holidays. If your abuser has caused harm in ways such as:

  • Physical abuse
  • Psychological abuse
  • Injury
  • Intentional illness
  • Sexual assault
  • Financial assault

Those who have experienced any of the above should seek immediate help. Seek the aid of your friends or family; they may offer you a safe place to stay. However, if that isn’t an option, try to find a shelter that could take you in until you can find another place to stay. If you are in an emergency, please contact 911. There are also multiple 24-hour hotlines available to help you find support and information to find help.