SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — What many call the most wonderful time of the year happens to be very stressful for domestic violence victims.
As we head into Thanksgiving, The Victim Center and The Rebound Foundation said these crimes happen more often during the winter season.
The Victim Center executive director Brandi Bartel says her nonprofit receive plenty of phone calls from victims after New Years.
“After the holidays are over and our routines go back to normal, the offender goes back to work, or perhaps unhealthy family members leave the home,” Bartel said. “Then that’s usually victims find the opportunity to seek and reach out for help.”
The Rebound Foundation board member Paula Rector says she doesn’t see a connection between the holidays and domestic violence.
“We have to think about this as you know the reason this happens is that one person is trying to exert control over the other person,” Rector said. “That can happen any day.”
If you plan to eat with your family in-person for Thanksgiving, Bartel shared some warning signs you can look out for:
- Overly controlling behavior
- Not being allowed to make your own decisions
- Not being allowed to make private phone calls.
With COVID-19 possibly affecting holiday plans this year, Bartel says offenders might use the pandemic to their advantage. That might mean not allowing any gatherings or scaring their victim into staying home. Bartel offers advice to family or friends.
“Try to find opportunities when you think the victim might be alone to reach out,” Bartel said. “I always encourage people to be intentional when they reach out. Put a lot of thought into the timing but also to be genuine and sincere in their efforts to try and connect with the victim.”
The Victim Center has a 24-hour crisis response phone line: The number is 417-864-7233.