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Does domestic violence spike during the holidays?

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SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 News) – Holidays are often thought of as the best time of the year, but for victims and survivors of domestic violence, the holidays can be a dark and scary time.

Cases of domestic violence can spike during the holidays, according to the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

“Certain types of intimate partner violence, dating violence, especially where, I think it could be attributed to people sharing custody, family stress can go up during the holidays, financial stress can go up during the holidays,” explained Jenn Oxborrow, Executive Director, Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.

“If there’s been a long history of violence and abuse and tension goes up, it can be the perfect storm sometimes. Sometimes too, this is a time where people who have been perpetrating violence feel like they’re losing access or control. So that can be a really dangerous situation.”

June, September, and December are when Utah typically sees a higher prevalence in domestic violence-related homicides, according to UDVC’s Fatality Tracker.

“Stressful situations like the holidays, stressful times of year where children are going back to school or have the summer break, we can see spikes in domestic violence as well,” Oxborrow told ABC4 News.

“So what signs do you watch out for when you’re around family and friends this holiday season?” asked ABC4’s Brittany Johnson.

“People are always watching for the really obvious signs of physical abuse in violence, but sometimes the really dangerous signs of intimate partner homicide risk, in particular, can be more subtle,” Oxborrow answered. “If someone has been isolated, if you haven’t been able to be in touch with your sister, your cousin, your friend, they’re canceling at the last minute, if things just don’t feel right to you. If they’re telling you about financial abuse, that they’re really controlled, that they can’t go shopping on their own, if someone is being obsessive or stalking or incredibly jealous about something, these are all important red flags that we need to pay attention to. And we need to do more to make sure that especially when there’s a firearm present, that we’re talking about that and we’re planning for safety with professionals.”

“If someone is confiding in you that they’re in an abusive situation, there’s certain risk factors we need to take very seriously. If there’s access to a firearm in the home, if the abusive person is suicidal, if they’ve ever tried to strangle or choke the person that they’re abusing previously, if they’re stalking them and they’re incredibly jealous, these are things we need to take very seriously. They are some of the most predictive factors of intimate partner homicide risk. Intimate partner homicide is very high in Utah. Some years it’s more than half of our homicides.”

Free and confidential help and support for victims and survivors of domestic or intimate partner violence is available 24/7:1-800-897-LINK (5465) or udvc.org

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 911 immediately.

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