San Francisco Family Law Firm Says Studies Show Domestic Violence Decreases During Holiday Season

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San Francisco family law firm Heath-Newton, LLP says the facts contradict the widely held idea that domestic violence increases over the holidays.

Heath-Newton, LLP is a San Francisco family law practice that focuses on families.

These reports led us to do some investigation around the statistics and rationale behind this concerning fact, which revealed surprising results

For many people, the holiday season is a time of joy and merriment. For some, however, the holidays are a time of stress, anxiety, and unfortunate family disputes. It has been reported over the years by various news agencies that the incidences of domestic violence are greater during the holidays than the rest of the year. But Heath-Newton, a San Francisco family law firm, notes that data on domestic violence and the holidays from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence and the National Domestic Violence Hotline disproves this assumption, showing that violent incidents actually decrease over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“These reports led us to do some investigation around the statistics and rationale behind this concerning fact, which revealed surprising results,” says Alison Grcevich, an attorney with Heath-Newton. “It turns out that very few studies have been conducted to track the correlation between domestic violence and the holidays.”

According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV), most of the available reports addressing the prevalence of domestic violence during the holidays are anecdotal or opinion pieces where the dated cited often comes from an individual or one shelter’s experiences.

According to the NRCDV, one of the few reliable studies on this issue was conducted in 2005, which explored the incidence and characteristics of intimate partner violence in Idaho, a rural mountain state. This study, titled Intimate Partner Violence Incidence and Characteristics: Idaho NIBRS 1995 to 2001 Data, analyzed seven years of National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data to compare the incidences of intimate partner violence in Idaho, as compared to the rest of the nation.

The unexpected results of this study showed that there is a strong relationship between particular holidays and incidence reports of intimate partner violence, but not the correlation that had been predicted. According to the study, Thanksgiving, Christmas and (not so unexpectedly) Valentine’s Day had below the general trend of any ordinary non-holiday. New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, and the 4th of July had higher reports of domestic violence than the normal daily average. In particular, New Year’s Day revealed 2.7 times more incidents of domestic violence, followed by the 4th of July.

The study’s explanation of these surprising statistics is that, historically, intimate partner violence occurs at night and on the weekends, and in places where there was greater seclusion from others who might step in on the victim’s behalf (i.e. the home). The study also held that intimate partner violence is also more likely on holidays when use of alcohol increases.

Another study, conducted by the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) has performed an analysis for the years 2004 through 2009, and found that the reports of domestic violence not only decrease during the holiday season, but that the decrease is dramatic. According to the NDVH study:

  •     Nationwide call volume during the week of Thanksgiving decreases by about 15%, and drops by around 45% to 60% on Thanksgiving Day.
  •     During the holiday season from December 15 to January 1, call volume drops by around 5% to 25%, and call volume on the actual holidays (Christmas Eve and Day, New Year’s Eve and Day) drops dramatically by about 50%.
  •     Once the holiday season is over, there is an average 5% increase in call volume over the next two weeks.

“Despite these statistics that reported domestic violence decreases during the holidays, it is clear that the incidences do not stop occurring. If you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence, it is important to contact your local police and seek help,” urges Grcevich.

For more information about the correlation between holidays and domestic violence, or any other family law matter, please contact San Francisco divorce attorneys Heath-Newton, LLP by calling (415) 992-5038, visit their website http://www.heathnewton.com, or stop by their office located at 240 Stockton Street, Suite 300 in San Francisco, California.

About Heath-Newton, LLP
Heath-Newton, LLP is a San Francisco family law practice focused on families. These San Francisco divorce attorneys pride themselves on working with clients from all backgrounds and lifestyles. Heath-Newton, LLP specializes in premarital agreements (prenups), same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships, divorce, child support, spousal support, adoption, and child custody in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

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Erik W. Newton
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