BEAUFORT COUNTY, SC (WSAV) – While the holidays can be a time for celebration, for some it may be the worst time of the year.
That’s because the chances and cases of domestic violence and child abuse climb at this time every year.
While there are no firm numbers, seemingly every agency connected to domestic violence and child abuse agrees — the chances and cases of domestic violence and child abuse rise during the holidays.
Why is that?
“Around the holidays, alcohol increase, stress increases, the number of people you are around increases,” said Erin Hall of Hopeful Horizons.
Hall says those factors can trigger some people, increase the chances of fights, violence and abuse.
“The first thing to look for is the physical signs. bruises or trying to cover up bruises,” said Hall. “Then look at how a husband and wife or a couple is treating each other. The words and the tone.
‘If you suspect someone is being abused, pay attention to the comfort level in their home. I think you can say, ‘If you ever need anything. I’m here to talk.’ Let them know you are not judging them and you are a safe space for them.”
The same goes for kids who see the chances and dangers of abuse rise with the number of people and unusual situations they may be in.
“Traditionally. you are looking for bruises, scars, but we see a lot of emotional abuse, verbal abuse,” said Hall. “Look at how kids are being spoken to and what’s appropriate.”
“When it comes to types of child abuse, the most we see is child sexual abuse,” she continued. “So if your kid doesn’t want to hug and kiss a relative during the holidays, that’s OK. If they are not comfortable that’s OK. There could be reasons for that.”
Those reasons may not manifest themselves until after the holidays. Which is where family, friends and teachers come in.
“Kids have been home a couple of weeks,” said Hall. “They go back to schools, and our schools are good at seeing the signs of abuse, so we usually see an uptick in January when kids are back in school.”
For either a domestic violence victim or a child in need, Hall says offer help but don’t push too much. It can take time.
“On average, it takes someone seven times of leaving to leave for the last time. So if you are a family member or a friend that’s a lot of time to stay patient,” she said.
“Supporting a survivor is truly supporting a survivor. Ask them if they are OK, ask them if they have a place to go. It’s OK if they are not in the holiday spirit.”
Hall continued: “Maybe your resolution is I’m going to try to get out. I’m going to do something different in 2023. I’m going to take care of myself in a different way.”
Hall says to go ahead and ask a simple question like “are you OK?” and you never know where it may lead to.
We also have a list of services for whatever area you live in at wsav.com/crisishotline.