The holidays are upon us, a time for family and friends to reunite. It's also a time of year when the number of calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline drops dramatically.
While this may sound like good news, the hotline says that the drop in calls may be due to victims trying to put on a happy face when family and friends are around, reports CBS News.
In fact, instead of a time for peace and accord, the holidays can be an extremely stressful time for many couples leading to an actual increase in violent confrontations. With that in mind, here are some tips to prevent domestic violence this holiday season:
- Identify Easy Exits. If you feel an argument is about to get violent, you should be prepared to make a quick and safe exit. If you are in your home, make a note of the best exit routes, the National Domestic Violence Hotline's president suggests. And if you are visiting friends or family, have an escape plan in mind.
- Establish Code Words for Kids. Often an ex-partner will come to visit children over the holidays, leading to an awkward and perhaps volatile meeting. If your former partner had exhibited signs of violence before, you should establish a set of code words with your children to signal a potential problem.
- Avoid Arguments in the Kitchen. Things can get heated in the kitchen. And the kitchen may actually be one of the worst places to get in a fight. As mentioned above, there may be no easy exit in the kitchen. Plus there are plenty of potential weapons lying around.
- Know How to File a Restraining Order. If things have already gotten too far out of control and you fear for your health or safety, you will need to know how to file a restraining order. An emergency order can be issued relatively quickly; a follow-up hearing will likely be needed to make such a temporary order permanent.
- Contact a Lawyer. An experienced family law attorney can help you file a restraining order or enforce an existing order. In addition, an attorney can help walk you through the other legal steps to get you out of a potentially dangerous relationship.