There is a persistent myth surrounding domestic violence. The media has — falsely — claimed for many years that domestic violence peaks around the holidays. This is not supported by evidence and actually does further harm to the victims, as domestic violence occurs year round.
Which is not to say that incidents of domestic violence don’t ebb and flow in relationships. They do, based on myriad factors unique to the relationships.
Can the holidays affect domestic violence?
There is no doubt that many people find the winter holidays to be more stressful than convivial. Stress can trigger arguments between intimate partners — and some arguments may get out of hand.
If you and your spouse have a volatile relationship, it’s important to identify the triggers that can tip a verbal argument to an altercation.
For some couples, alcohol is their relationship’s kryptonite. Instead of fostering intimacy, its role is to fan the flames in an argument and bring spouses to sword’s point. If you and your spouse are going through a particularly rough patch this holiday season, it might be a good idea to lay off the booze entirely.
Overspending is stressful
Although they don’t have to be, the holidays can be a budget-buster. Overspending on holiday gifts and preparations can foment tension and strife between partners. One spouse may be willing to get overextended on credit to meet holiday obligations while the other dreads those January bills rolling in. They may argue over budgets, gifts and spending in general, setting the scene for escalation.
When in-laws are outlaws
The winter holidays are a time when couples may have to spend time with their spouse’s relatives — even when those relatives might not be their fist choice of company (or second or third…). If you find yourself in the company of those with whom you would rather not spend time, it’s wise to avoid any polarizing discussions, e.g., no politics or religion. Stick to neutral topics like the weather or sports.
Some in-laws may be truly obnoxious and hard to tune out. If you feel that continuing to spend time around a certain person could potentially trigger a spate of violence or verbal tirade in your significant other, it’s perfectly fine to excuse yourselves and take your leave.
Get ahead of any allegations
Despite your best intentions, if an argument gets out of hand with your spouse over the holidays, you need to take immediate action to avoid a domestic violence conviction. Protect your rights and your good name by launching a vigorous defense to the allegations you face.