This time of year can be anything but festive for many.
Experts say that as financial stressors rise and quarters are cramped with visiting family members, abusers often become more abusive. Their victims, however, often withdraw further into silence.
While the number of domestic violence incidents increase during the holidays, calls to shelters and emergency lines actually decrease. Victims often try to maintain happy memories for children by trying not to anger their attackers and hope that the presence of family will provide respite from the abuse.
Data from the National Domestic Violence Hotline indicates that hotline call volumes drop by approximately half on Thanksgiving Day, 53 percent on Christmas day and by 30 percent on New Year’s Day because women choose to “grin and bear it,” so their children don’t have to spend the holidays in a shelter. Calls begin to rise dramatically, immediately after New Year’s Day.
Thankfully, there are a number of local and national companies that help raise awareness of this issue.
Verizon’s HopeLine program collects and refurbishes used mobile phones, loads them with free minutes and donates them to shelters for victims to use while they are there.
Here are some tips for helping victims of domestic violence:
• If you suspect a co-worker or someone else you know is suffering abuse, do not directly confront her/him since it is important for an individual to self-disclose for her/his own safety and well-being.
• Express concern and a willingness to listen and be supportive if needed.
• Offer support by listening and assisting; when an individual is ready, she/he will confide.
• If a co-worker confides in you, encourage communication with the human resources manager and her/his supervisor.
• If you witness an incident, contact law enforcement or your safety manager (if at work) immediately. Make sure that the incident is documented.
Remember, no one deserves to be abused. If at any time you are being physically harmed, dial 911 immediately. If you feel threatened or are being abused, in Tupelo or northeast Mississippi, call 1-800-527-7233 or 841-9138.
Deborah Yates, Executive Director