For many of us, the holidays are a time for happiness and togetherness. For far too many, though, they include horrors that are difficult to face. The Window Project is refusing to let us bury our heads in the sand this holiday season.
Studies estimate that domestic violence increases by as much as 30 percent during the holiday season, with the highest number of calls to domestic violence hotlines and police occurring around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The delay between Thanksgiving and the influx of calls to crisis lines around New Year’s is explained by Katie Ray-Jones, CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotlines, who says:
“A lot of women will grin and bear it, try to keep the peace so their children don’t have to spend holidays in a shelter.”
The sharp increase in incidences of domestic violence are reportedly due to the added stress of the holidays and by the added “togetherness” of families where violence is present, adding more opportunities for violence. Initiatives like The Windows Project are a sharp reminder that, for far too many families, that holiday togetherness is nothing to celebrate.
Safety planning is key. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website:
“A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.
Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm. When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.”
Ray-Jones identifies safety planning methods that include being aware of exits and ensuring that children learn code words so that they’ll know when to flee and to try to seek help from neighbors. Additional methods may include keeping a cell phone charged and nearby, learning the numbers and locations of your local domestic violence shelters, and keeping important papers and phone numbers in a vehicle, at work, or at a trusted friend or family member’s house in case a victim has to flee.
The Windows Project’s campaign to increase awareness asks those who wish to help in the struggle to address the issue of domestic violence to text No More to 45678, which donates $5 to the No More Campaign to help stop domestic violence and sexual assault.
If you believe that you or someone you love is experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).