The holidays can be a time of celebration, but for families who are already struggling it can mean extra stress. Hear how experts say domestic violence increases during the holiday season.

" /> Domestic Violence Increases Around the Holidays | News | Mississippi Public Broadcasting
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Domestic Violence Increases Around the Holidays

By Daniel Cherry | Published 21 Dec 2011 06:00pm | comments

The holiday season is meant to be one of the best times of the year for families, but for some it can be a time of stress and conflict. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how experts say domestic violence increases around the holidays.

Police Departments say they get more calls for domestic violence than any other reason, and that can get even worse during the holiday season. Don Byington is the Chief of Police in Clinton. He says the season can add to their already busy workload.

"Tension will kind of mount, and what starts as verbal then becomes physical. Generally it's not too bad; however, sometimes we see cases where it's very serious in nature where there are some very serious injuries."

Experts say a person is much more likely to be assaulted by a family member or acquaintance than a stranger so it's no surprise fights sometimes occur at family gatherings. Sandy Middleton is the Executive Director of the Center for Violence Prevention. She says mix alcohol with prolonged time with family and it can be the spark violence needs.

"The holidays are very stressful even for homes that have strong relationships so you can imagine that for a home that has a tendency towards violence, to put that other layer of stress on there, it just pretty much lights the keg."

In tough economic times domestic violence cases will increase. Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood says any financial strain a family is facing is amplified by the pressure to provide loved ones with the newest and best gifts.

"A lot of them are on the verge of bankruptcy anyway. Say you've lost the head of the family, the largest income earner, whoever it was, husband or wife, and it really puts a lot of families in dire straits and creates a lot of stress on families at Christmas."

Anti-domestic violence advocates remind all Mississippians, there are programs to help avoid violence. If all else fails, leave if tempers flare, and let everyone involved cool down before returning.

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