With the holiday season upon us, questions arise about the increase of domestic violence during this time and how to appropriately meet the needs of survivors and their children. A common assumption is that domestic violence increases over the holidays. Available research, however, is limited and inconclusive. Some survivors choose to stay at home during the holidays to keep the peace and to maintain family unity and religious and cultural traditions. Others may find themselves celebrating with other survivors in a shelter. For many, this time of year doesn’t hold any special significance and it is essential that they not feel alienated or excluded while seeking services.
What those who provide services for survivors and their families can do is increase public awareness that domestic violence does not stop during the holidays and that although the holidays may bring additional stressors, abuse is always an intentional behavior. It is also essential to provide compassionate, culturally-relevant services and to create a welcoming atmosphere throughout the year.
For the past seven years, the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence has released information to the field, including Technical Assistance (TA) Guidance documents, as part of our Domestic Violence and the Holidays Series in preparation for the time period beginning the week of Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day (“the holidays”). These were developed to 1) respond to the common misperception that domestic violence increases during the holidays, and 2) provide support during a time that may be stressful for survivors of domestic violence and the programs that serve them.
The resources included in this Toolbox highlight trauma-informed strategies to support programs in promoting healing, wellness and safety during the holiday season, while taking into consideration the diverse needs of survivors and the advocates that serve them. Each TA Guidance document provides best practice information and resources related to: positive visioning, promoting wellness and managing stress, cultural sensitivity, responding to the food-related needs of survivors in shelter, considerations for working with survivors from specific populations, and understanding the available research.