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6 ways to keep domestic violence from ruining your holidays

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season for the final months of the year right on through the New Year. While for most families, the holidays are happy, convivial times shared with family and friends, for many others, the specter of domestic violence intrudes into an otherwise festive season.

There are mixed views on whether domestic violence increases or decreases during the season from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day. The National Domestic Violence Hotline actually reports a decrease in calls over the holidays. But that does not mean that the incidents are not occurring, just that they are not being reported by the victims.

Victims hide the abuse so as not to ruin the holiday

One suspected reason for the decrease in calls to the NDVH and other hotlines for domestic violence victims is that these victims are determined to grit their teeth and bear the abuse in order not to ruin the holiday for the kids or elderly relatives. They take the punches, slaps and other batteries upon their bodies, then hide the bruises with make-up and cover them with clothing.

Nobody should have to accept this kind of abuse at any time of the year. Chances are good that the children - even the youngest - instinctively know that something is wrong, even when they are unable to articulate or understand the reasons for the tension.

Protect yourself and your kids this holiday season with these tips from experts

  1. Program emergency numbers to domestic violence hotlines, shelters and other emergency contacts into your cellphone. List them as something generic like utility companies and put them on speed-dial. In case your cellphone is destroyed or taken away, memorize the numbers.
  2. Decide on a "safe" word or phrase that you share with those who know of your situation and to whom you can turn when in crisis. It should be innocuous enough to fly under the radar of your abuser's attention.
  3. When traveling to visit family for the holidays, pre-arrange an emergency contact there. This can be an old friend, or even the police in the jurisdiction where you will be staying.
  4. Keep your charger and phone with you wherever you go, along with some secret cash stashed back.
  5. Don't let your abuser isolate you. At family gatherings, remain in the throng of relatives. It's more difficult for a situation to escalate in public.
  6. Scope out the surroundings in unfamiliar homes so you know how to escape quickly if necessary and where not to wind up trapped.

If you are tired of being victimized by a batterer, decide here and now that this is the last holiday season you will tolerate this type of treatment. Then, seek out an experienced Maryland family law practitioner who can help you get protective orders against your abuser, file for divorce and allow you to move on with your life.

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