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Domestic violence doesn't take a holiday break

Women who are victims of domestic violence year-round come to dread the Christmas holidays in particular. Instead of enjoying times full of domestic tranquility and happy family memories-in-the-making, these women have to worry about avoiding doing the slightest thing that might set their abuser off on a tirade that could end in a beating.

The holidays are a time of additional stress, which can trigger bouts of abusive behavior from the abusive partner. Worries about excessive spending on gifts, holiday decorations, traveling to extended family members' homes out of town and even holiday meals can cause the abuser to brood. Then, a seemingly innocent, unrelated remark or gesture can become the flashpoint for his anger, turning another holiday celebration into a nightmare of screaming, tears and flying fists.

Devise a safety plan for the holidays

If you are concerned that an episode of domestic violence could erupt with your abuser over the holidays, it's wise to have a safety plan in place. Below are some tips that could keep you safer during threats of, or actual, violence:

  • If visiting, stay around others as much as possible. They can serve as a buffer between you and your abuser and reduce the likelihood of an attack.
  • Keep your cellphone charged and programmed with numbers of emergency contacts you can call 24/7 for assistance in crises.
  • Even better - as abusers can snatch cellphones away during confrontations - memorize important numbers, such as the local domestic violence shelter and local police.
  • Come up with a "safe" word or phrase that you can use in a call, text or on social media to alert friends or family that you are in jeopardy and for them to call authorities.
  • Keep a stash of cash secured out of the house. Abusers often financially deprive their spouses, even when they are well-to-do, as a form of economic abuse.
  • Learn to defuse potentially volatile situations before they escalate. Take a walk; take a bath; if others are there to run interference, ask them to distract your abuser in some way.

Decide now that 2017 will be different

The best New Year's resolution that you can make is to decide that you will no longer live under the thumb of your abusive intimate partner. A restraining order can keep your abuser from coming within a certain distance of your home, place of work and even o ut in public.

A family law attorney can answer any questions you may have about the process and help you file for a restraining order along with a divorce, child support and spousal support, if appropriate.

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