For most of us there is excitement, joy, and anticipation over the holidays. Reunions with relatives, nostalgic traditions, and good food tend to be what we think of when we hear the words Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, for those in abusive relationships this can be a time that is most dreadful, nerve wrecking, and dangerous for a victim.
Regardless if you are in an abusive relationship or not, we all can agree the holidays bring stress whether through pressure of buying presents, booking flights, or cooking a big meal. Stress is one of the main factors for escalating violence in an abusive relationship which directly correlates with the number of domestic violence calls this time of year.
Along with stress, it is common for people to increase their alcohol consumption at holiday parties when they have extended time off of work, and the abuser is likely to spend more time at home on holiday leave. Regardless of your relationship with an abuser, if you notice any of the following signs we ask that you take initiative and intervene in a way that is safe, conscientious, and helpful to your friend or family member experiencing domestic violence. Some of the main signs to be aware of in a victim or survivor of domestic abuse are as follows:
– Bruises/cuts/markings that don’t merit their explanation.
ie. “I walked into the door”, “I accidentally tripped and fell”.
– Wearing unusual clothing for the setting and climate.
ie. shades inside or a turtleneck sweater when the heat is on.
– Being unusually quiet or withdrawn.
– Nervousness or anxiety when away from the abuser.
– Admittance of suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
– Engaging in drug or alcohol use heavier than normal.
– Avoiding parties or social events continually.
– Lack of money or resources due to partner having full control.
– Abuser accompanying victim/abuser everywhere.
If you notice one or more of these signs in a family member or friend this year, remember it is not the victims fault. Try to engage with the victim/survivor in a way that is accepting, comforting, and not accusatory. Always believe the victim. If law enforcement is contacted, please allow them to determine the details of the abuse. It may be hard to believe a family member or friend of yours is an abuser or is a victim, however, often times this can be a life or death situation and we encourage you to take a leap of faith to help someone rather than to “preserve holiday cheer”.
Some helpful resources for you and the victim/survivor can be found at are SafeHouse of Shelby County. SafeHouse provides services to victims and survivors in Shelby, Clay, Coosa, and Chilton counties. SafeHouse also provides SANE services for sexual assault evidence collection to ages 14 and older, within 72 hours of a sexual assault. You may also call your local police department for help. If you or a friend is in immediate dance, call 911.
All of our services are free of charge regardless if it is a forensic exam, counseling session, case management etc. and whether or not you are seeking immediate refuge or if the abuse happened years prior. We are a non-profit that prides themselves on confidentiality. We acknowledge that abuse happens to all genders, races, and ages and will make accommodations as needed. We do not require our clients to report or tell us more than they feel comfortable sharing. Our services are individualized for each client dependent on their needs. Whether you are seeking shelter or simply have a question about our organization, please feel welcome to call our 24/7 crisis line at (205) 669-7233.
Our website is www.safehouse.org
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For more information or training opportunities available, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org