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Why do domestic violence hotline calls drop over the holidays?

Many people assume that incidents of domestic violence increase over the holidays. People may be off of work and therefore together more than they'd normally be. Alcohol consumption may increase thanks to holiday get-togethers and bowl games. The increased stress of family visitors, shopping and general holiday preparation can put people on edge. If a couple is already in a precarious financial situation, the prospect of having to buy gifts for the kids, family and friends can push some people over the edge.

Interestingly, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that calls to them fall significantly on major holidays. So do calls to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network hotline. However, that doesn't mean that violence isn't occurring in homes across America. In fact, calls for help increase once the holidays are over.

So why do people stay in abusive situations over the holidays? Experts say that a lot of victims of domestic violence want to keep the peace and "put on a good face" for friends and family. Some people even return to abusive situations over the holidays. Many people stay because they don't want their children (or themselves) to be in a shelter during this time.

It's never advisable to stay in a home with an abusive partner or to expose your children to violence, no matter what time of year it is. However, the National Domestic Violence Hotline president says that if you do stay in a home with an abuser, it's essential to take some precautions.

She recommends always being aware of the nearest exit and limiting arguments to rooms that are "safe." The kitchen, for example, is a potentially a very dangerous place to have a fight because of "knives, boiling water, and pots and pans within reach." She also suggests giving your children code words that alert them to get help from a neighbor or someone else.

If you and/or your children are victims of domestic violence, there are legal steps that you can take to help protect yourself. A Maryland attorney with experience in domestic violence cases can advise you of your legal options and steps to take to help keep yourself and your family safe.

Source: CBS News, "Domestic violence and the holidays: Expert says calls to hotline decrease when victims try to "keep the peace"," Julia Dahl, accessed Dec. 09, 2015

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