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Domestic violence calls go down over holidays, but abuse doesn't

December 24, 2012|by Pilar Pedraza | KWCH 12 Eyewitness News

(WICHITA, Kan.) — "The reality is nobody really wants to spend the holidays in shelter," said Debbie Zelli, Director of Client Services at the YWCA Women's Crisis Center in Wichita.
That's one of many reasons experts believe domestic abuse reports go down over the holidays.

Normally you'd think domestic abuse reports go up this time of the year because of the stress the holidays can bring.  That's not necessarily the case.  Some national studies suggest the opposite to be true.

This weekend police arrested a Wichita woman on charges she killed her husband before trying to kill herself.  Officers call it a domestic violence situation.  In another case, a Northeast Wichita man turned himself into police saying he'd stabbed his wife.  She died.

But more often over the holidays the violence goes unreported.

"Often, women tell us later that they tried to keep the peace, just keep it low key cause there's a lot of family around, or the kids, have a holiday, that kind of thing," said Zelli.

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One study showed domestic violence reports are more likely to decrease on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas but increase on holidays like New Year's, Memorial Day and the 4th of July.

Why? Family and friends are more often present during the first set of holidays while alcohol tends to dominate during the second set.

Another study showed that in the second half of December the number of calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline drops by as much as 25%, 50% on Christmas Day itself.

"Just because the number of calls or the number of reports to law enforcement drops doesn't necessarily mean that the number of incidents is dropping," said Zelli.  "We usually see a significant spike in calls to the hotline and folks seeking services right after the holidays themselves end.

A 2007 study in Kansas showed one in 10 Kansas women had personally experienced domestic violence. 

"And we suspect those are still under reported," said Zelli.

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship there is help.  The YWCA Women's Crisis Center operates a 24 hour hotline, staffed by trained counselors.  That number is 267-safe.  The call is anonymous.

Domestic violence calls go down over holidays, but abuse doesn't
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