The holiday season is high season for domestic violence, too

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays. I’ve been spending most of the festive season at home wrapped in multiple layers of warm clothing and trying to figure out an answer to the age-old question: is it possible, though the medical establishment has yet to realize it, that watching all four seasons of Friday Night Lights in rapid succession can cure the flu?

But as Nina Funnell reminds us in Australia’s The Age, the festive season isn’t just about food and presents and precious moments around the Christmas tree. It’s also a time at which a law enforcement services and women’s shelters brace themselves for a spike in domestic violence. According to Funnell, the period between Christmas and New Year’s, with its combination of “financial strain, families spending more time together, and increased alcohol consumption,” brings an increase in domestic assault. In New South Wales, my home state, “police responded to more than 5000 domestic-violence related complaints over the December 2009 to January 2010 period.” The coincidence of the holiday season with the heat of the Australian summer only makes things worse; as Funnell notes, incidences of domestic violence are far more likely to occur during the summer.

Funnell outlines the resources available to those in NSW dealing with domestic violence, notably, a new DV resource website that was launched this month and that wisely takes in to account the possibility that a person checking such a site might need to clear their browser history or exit the site quickly if their abuser enters the room. That site also includes a list of resources for Australians not living in NSW.

If you’re in the US and need information about domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, whose site has a similar “quick escape” button that will redirect you to a neutral site immediately if the need arises. If you’re in the UK, you can call the National Domestic Violence Helpline.

Have a safe and happy holiday season, everyone.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • Sarah

    Contrary to popular belief, the holiday season actually ISN’T a time where domestic violence increases. At least in the US. Perhaps in NSW this might be different, but I thought it was important that I share that this information isn’t correct.

    Chloe, you are correct in that there is a strong relationship between particular holidays and the incidence of reports of DV. However, on average, Valentines Day, Thanksgiving, and Xmas are dates in which reports of DV are actually lower than the general trend.

    New Years Eve, New Years Day, The Super Bowl, Memorial Day, and Independence Day are actually the holidays that have higher reporting of DV then the average rates. It is possible that these higher rates on these specific dates is correlated to the increased usage of alcohol. However, I know we all know that alcohol is not an excuse for violence.

    Most of this information I am quoting is from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence in their article called “Domestic Violence and the Holidays” which was published in November this year.

    I actually work for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and thank you for the plug as well. Getting our number out to victims and survivors as well as friends and family is always a great step for helping those cope and move forward from domestic violence. I’d encourage everyone to find the article, its a great read. And thank you Chloe for bring this issue up during the holidays, because regardless of statistics, it’s an issue that is affecting millions of women. =D

  • Tamaso Johnson (part of the National Network to End Domestic Violence) is also an excellent resource for those in the US seeking information about domestic violence laws, information, and resources. also maintains a free, anonymous e-mail hotline where anyone can ask a question about domestic violence or other relevant legal issues (such as divorce or custody) and get a personalized response within a few days.