THE BLOG
12/23/2014 04:25 pm ET Updated Feb 22, 2015

Once Again: Does Domestic Violence Increase Over the Holidays?

Kyle: It was Christmas. I knew she'd have the kids over to her mothers. I thought I'd go over to see them, just the kids, just to give them their presents.

You knew the restraining order included the kids right?

Correct, but it didn't seem right that I was being kept out their lives on the holidays.

You were arrested?

Yes, her mother tried to prevent me from entering the property. I pushed her and she banged her head on the pavement.

Justine: One of his worst incidents was on Valentine's Day. He gave me some roses but there was no card. I asked if he wrote a card and he got super mad right off the bat. He was screaming at me and the next thing I know, my forehead is gushing blood. He had thrown a bottle of champagne at me. He didn't want me to call the police. He was trying to stop the bleeding with a towel. It was strange; he was apologizing but also he kept yelling at me and blaming me, "You couldn't just be happy with the flowers, could you?"

Michael: We were at a New Year's party. We'd both been drinking. I thought she was a little too friendly with one of our friends.

What do you mean by 'too friendly'?

Just talking with the guy and I realize now that's all it was.

What did you do?

I caused a scene. It started out with just yelling at her and the other guy. It ended up with me being arrested. I punched her in the head. I'm not proud of this but that's what I did.

James: It was the Fourth of July and I got into it with her father. I blamed him for what happened, for convincing Tracy to get the restraining order. He told me leave. I grabbed him by the arm and twisted it behind his back. I was arrested.

***

Told by men attending an abuser education program and one man's partner, these kinds of stories lend credence to the notion that domestic violence increases during the holidays. But beyond the fact that all these incidents occurred on a holiday, they have something else in common. All the abusers had been previously been violent on regular days. All continued to be violent after the holidays. And none had committed their worse incident of abuse during a holiday.

According to statistics compiled by the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the notion that domestic violence increases during holidays is largely a myth. Whereas the number of calls to the Hotline on an average day in 2013 was 675, there were 438 calls on Thanksgiving, 503 on Christmas Eve, 381 on Christmas Day, 546 on New Year's Eve and 570 on New Year's Day. However one study of police responses to domestic violence in Idaho presented a more varied picture. While police responses to domestic violence incidents on Valentine's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas were less than on average days, there were more incidents on other holidays such as New Year's Eve, New Year's Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day. This same study found that domestic violence crimes occur more often at night, on weekends and during the summer. In short, domestic violence is more likely to occur when there is more contact between the abuser and the victim. It is also more likely to occur in the home as compared to in public settings.

It is also possible that domestic violence is exacerbated by consumption of alcohol on certain holidays when drinking is more accepted. But this does not mean that alcohol caused the domestic violence no more than it causes one to put a lampshade on one's head. Intoxication often provides an excuse and a cover for unacceptable behavior. Fueled by alcohol, some abusers give themselves permission to take become violent. It's important to remember that most alcoholics do not abuse their partners, and even those who do are just as likely to strike out when they are sober than when they are intoxicated.

Overall research about domestic violence during holidays shows that the holidays do not cause domestic violence but also that domestic violence does not take a holiday either. Contrary to popular misconception, domestic violence is not caused by alcohol, excessive revelry, stress, expectations, financial woes, or meddling in-laws. Domestic violence is not caused by situations but by abusers who are intend on imposing their will on their partner, regardless of what day of the week or time of year it is.