struggles of divorce

Holiday Stress and Domestic Violence

The holidays are reputedly one of the happiest times of year, the days we look forward to all year long. But all the energy and effort it takes to keep up family traditions and happy family appearances exact a toll, and the additional stress introduces an increased risk for domestic violence.

What Statistics Do Not Show

Statistical data does not show an increase in the incidence of domestic violence between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Many agencies actually report lower numbers of distress calls and victims seeking resources. Unfortunately, statistics are not highlighting truly happier times.

Anecdotal evidence and trends in divorce and domestic violence reports in the months following shed light on what may really be happening. In January and February the divorce rates and reports of domestic violence spike. But domestic violence and the decision to divorce do not happen on the spur of the moment. Tensions rise until they hit a boiling point. The fact that this boiling point is reached by many immediately following the holiday season suggests that people are doing everything they can to maintain the status quo during the holidays, including taking abuse.

What Makes Holidays Volatile

A number of factors may contribute to the increase of domestic violence around the holidays, including:

Family Stress

Added family stress takes many forms during the holidays. People striving to deliver happy holidays for others, especially young children, live with the stress of putting on a happy face. Trying to please everyone by participating in all traditional family get-togethers often leaves people feeling rushed and overwhelmed by holiday party preparation to-do lists. And, when holidays entail spending more time with family and friends, possibly away from your intimate partner, jealousy often arises.

Financial Strain

Because gift-giving is a central part of so many holiday celebrations, expenses increase during the holiday season. For families already facing stretched household budgets, the increased financial strain often leads to more arguments between partners. Men who feel they are expected to provide for their family are particularly sensitive to holiday budget demands.

Alcohol Consumption

Holiday celebrations (most notably on New Year’s Eve/Day) often involve alcohol. Alcohol increases impulsivity and decreases one’s ability to think rationally, a recipe for violence when tensions run high.

What to Do

Holiday stress may contribute to an increase in the incidence of domestic violence, but the warning signs are usually present well in advance. One way to keep you and your family from becoming victims of verbal or physical assault is to recognize signs early and remove yourself from a potentially dangerous situation before things escalate. Once your immediate personal safety is secured, you should explore your options to permanently remove yourself from the relationship.

If you are married to an (potentially) abusive partner, an experienced Colorado family law attorney can help you understand your divorce options, including strategies that can minimize cost and conflict. An experienced lawyer can also help you identify resources for victims to provide financial and emotional support.

Gordon Shayne is an experienced Colorado family lawyer. Mr. Shayne has dedicated his legal practice to family law issues for more than 13 years. He is committed to serving his clients’ best interests and minimizing legal expenses to the greatest extent possible. In cases involving domestic violence, he will help his clients pursue the legal protections they need.

If you are considering leaving an (potentially) abusive marriage, do not put yourself at risk for violence during the holiday season. Contact the Law Office of Gordon N. Shayne for a consultation today.


Disclaimer: The blogs posted on are offered for informational purposes only.   These blogs are not a solicitation for legal business and should not be construed as providing any legal advice or legal opinions as to any specific fact or circumstance.   Specific legal issues, concerns and conditions always require the advice of an appropriate legal professional.   To obtain legal advice or opinions about Colorado family law, personally consult with a licensed Colorado attorney.

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