INDIANAPOLIS — Christmas Day brings a lot of joy to many families, but for some, the holidays are a recipe for domestic violence and abuse.
Andrew Campbell, CEO and founder of Campbell Research and Consulting in Indianapolis, studied police reports in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, Bloomington, and Boone County.
Domestic violence reports increased 50 to 107% on Christmas Day compared to their daily average, according to Campbell’s research.
"In the smaller communities, domestic violence reports might go from 2 to 4 on Christmas Day and in larger communities from 13 reports to 26. so we are seeing them jump in that manner,” said Campbell.
Campbell says there are a number of reasons why Christmas Day is especially problematic for domestic violence.
“We see this entire day everybody is in the house, and most outside organizations are closed,” said Campbell. “They're in there together. That lends the opportunity for abuse to occur."
Also, by Christmas Day, most kids have already been home for a week, plus many parents are stressed about their finances in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
On December 25, more people may be around to witness abuse as well.
"We are more likely to see other family visiting the house and so there may be an opportunity for detection if an outside family member sees something and reports it,” said Campbell.
The impact on children, who are likely home to see or hear the abuse, can be devastating.
“Children are also much more likely to become victims themselves in the midst of the domestic violence,” said Sandy Runkle with Prevent Child Abuse Indiana. “They're at danger for emotional maltreatment but also neglect and physical abuse themselves just from getting caught up in that atmosphere."
Advocates are calling on churches, doctors, schools, and other organizations to be vigilant this time of year about supporting families and looking for signs of abuse.
"A breezy hello can go a long way in letting someone know you're thinking about them,” said Runkle.
“If you see something and you're afraid or worried for a family member, it's often a good idea to trust that gut feeling and to respond and do something about it,” said Campbell. “If someone does come to you and does disclose these types of things. It's so important to believe them. To support them in that. "
You can call 2-1-1 the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or visit thehotline.org.
Common signs of abuse in a relationship, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
- Telling you that you never do anything right.
- Showing extreme jealousy of your friends or time spent away from them.
- Preventing or discouraging you from spending time with friends, family members, or peers.
- Insulting, demeaning, or shaming you, especially in front of other people.
- Preventing you from making your own decisions, including about working or attending school.
- Controlling finances in the household without discussion, including taking your money or refusing to provide money for necessary expenses.
- Pressuring you to have sex or perform sexual acts you’re not comfortable with.
- Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.
- Intimidating you through threatening looks or actions.
- Insulting your parenting or threatening to harm or take away your children or pets.
- Intimidating you with weapons like guns, knives, bats, or mace.
Destroying your belongings or your home.