Every family deals with conflict around the holidays. Whatever the root cause, putting a family together with increased consumption of alcohol, and the financial stress many of us experience this time of year can be a recipe for disaster. If you add in the continued stress many face with the Covid-19 pandemic this year's holiday season could be a pressure cooker for many families.
These types of situations are exactly when you might expect to hear about an increase in the number of domestic violence incidents occurring. There can be many factors in play in domestic violence cases, particularly around the holidays. If you find yourself facing charges, you should turn to a domestic violence lawyer with Ktenas Law for legal advice. Contact us today for a free case consultation to begin building your defense.
Domestic Violence and the Holidays
While research into domestic violence around the holidays is still surprisingly limited and inconclusive, it can point toward an almost counterintuitive trend. A report from The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence actually shows a statistical decrease in the number of domestic phone calls received by the National Domestic Hotline.
This does not necessarily mean that actual incidents of domestic violence decrease around the holidays, however, as it is common to see an increase in calls to local law enforcement. The more likely explanation is that people are simply less likely to call the national hotline and more likely to seek immediate solutions to a violent situation.
Whether they feel additional family pressure or take a "stay together for the kids" mentality, domestic abuse victims are actually more likely to seek help from national resources after the holiday season than during it.
Example of Domestic Violence Crimes
An important thing to consider when looking at domestic violence arrests around the holidays is how the term is defined. From an advocate's perspective, domestic violence is "one person's intimidation and threats over another to gain and maintain power and control," per Kim Pentico of the National Network to End Domestic Violence. From a police officer's perspective, labeling a crime as "domestic" implies a relationship, only saying that those involved are family, but does not assert a pattern to the violence.
As a lesser-known example, think of siblings at a family gathering. The two argue, have too much to drink, and it devolves into a violent altercation. When the police are called in this situation it will be labeled as domestic violence on the police report due to the relationship. There is no accounting for whether the fight was a one-off event or part of a larger pattern or cycle of abuse.
This type of situation does not fit the idea of intimate partner violence that many have of domestic abuse, nor will it elicit a call to the National Domestic Hotline. But it will count toward local statistics on domestic violence and could help explain the discrepancies we see on holiday crime studies.
Possible Sign of Domestic Violence
One of the most standout signs that domestic violence is occurring in isolation. The abuse will often work to isolate the victim from their support network, especially friends and family. This could be another reason some studies show a decrease in domestic abuse around the holidays: the abuser may put on their best behavior when the family is around.
This could also help explain a spike in calls to the national hotline after the holiday season ends. The victim spends time around their violent partner's best self, and then when things return to normal they have to consider spending another year in that situation.
The most dangerous time in many abusive relationships is when the victim attempts to leave. Most domestic abuse is about control, and when that control is threatened violence can occur. Around the holidays there may be fewer apparent reasons to leave the relationship, which could, in turn, drive down instances of intimate partner violence.
Domestic Violence Charges During the Holidays
Holidays are almost always times of elevated stress, despite the image they present. Between possible travel plans, meals, coordinating with family, added financial stress, and often unrealistic expectations for the holiday, it's no surprise that tempers can boil over in into violent behavior. This is true during the best of years, and even more so with the continued Covid-19 pandemic.
While there is some disagreement over whether or not domestic violence instances increase during the holidays it is plain to see that the conditions are in place to offer more opportunities for bad situations. In many cases, domestic violence arrests during the holidays don't meet the criteria of what we typically consider. And simply carrying the "domestic violence" label on the police report can add significant consequences to a case that might otherwise have been a lesser criminal offense.
It is also important to remember that domestic situations are not exclusively violence against women. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse and violence.
Hire a Domestic Violence Attorney
A domestic violence conviction can carry severe penalties and will be part of your criminal record. A felony conviction can strip you of your voting rights, the right to possess a firearm, and may cost you professional licenses. The holiday season is often a time of high family tension, and with increased alcohol consumption added into the mix, poor decisions can be made and lead to regrettable outcomes.
Our expert Chicago defense attorneys at Ktenas Law will fight on your behalf to help you get the best possible results out of your case. We have the experience and dedication you will need to fight a holiday domestic violence charge.
Call us today at (312) 756-8652 or schedule an appointment online to get started on your case with a free initial consultation. Our criminal defense attorneys will ensure you don't have to face these charges alone.