According to domesticshelters.org, “From the financial stress of gift buying to an overall increase in alcohol consumption to a flurry of emotions—and sometimes stress . . . there are many reasons why the chance of intimate partner violence can increase during the holidays.” Unfortunately, this is a harsh reality for many in New Jersey and elsewhere throughout the country.
It is important to note that this increase in the risk of domestic violence does not necessarily correlate to a rise in reports of domestic violence. For example, data from the National Domestic Violence Hotline indicate that the number of reported instances of domestic violence “drops dramatically during the holidays.” However, in discussing these data, the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCADV) notes that “in families where violence is already present, holidays often mean more time with family and therefore more chance that violence [occurs].” As further explained on domesticshelters.org:
“Whether survivors don’t want to disturb family cohesiveness on these days, or can’t find a private time to make a call for support, advocates say the decline in calls isn’t necessarily an indication that violence ceases on these days, reporting that calls will often increase above normal levels the days and weeks following a holiday.”
For victims of domestic violence, speaking up is extremely important. Sadly, in many situations, abusive relationships do not improve on their own. Victims’ situations are more likely to get worse than they are to get better. Staying quiet during the holiday season might seem like the right thing to do; however, it is ultimately in everyone’s best interests for victims of domestic violence to get the help they need and deserve.
What Counts as Domestic Violence?
Many victims of domestic violence also choose not to speak up because they are not sure whether they are, in fact, victims. While most people know that physical assault is a form of domestic violence, many people do not know that domestic violence can take other forms as well. In the family environment – in which domestic violence is most likely to occur during the holidays – domestic violence can also include:
- Criminal restraint
- Criminal sexual contact
- Criminal trespass
- Terroristic threats
These acts (among others) constitute domestic violence when committed against a current or former spouse or partner, a current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, a child, or any other current or former member of the abuser’s household.
What are Domestic Violence Victims’ Rights in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, domestic violence victims have clear legal rights. This includes the right to report the crime and have the crime investigated by law enforcement. It also includes the right to obtain a domestic violence restraining order. Victims can get restraining orders without their abusers being present in court. Restraining orders can prevent abusers from contacting the victim or the victim’s family or engaging in other prohibited conduct.
Speak with a New Jersey Domestic Violence Lawyer in Confidence
If you or someone you love needs help as a victim of domestic violence this holiday season, we strongly encourage you to seek help. To speak with a New Jersey domestic violence lawyer in confidence, request a confidential consultation online now.