NO JOY, NO PEACEBy Michael F Craig

The Holidays are supposed to be a joyous occasion for families and close friends. However, for many women and children the holidays will be a terrifying and sometimes deadly experience.

Past seasons have shown an increase in domestic violence incidents during the holidays leaving families and friends traumatized with feelings of emptiness, fear, and hopelessness that carry over into the New Year.

Causes for the increased violence against women and children during the holidays includes stressor such as financial limits, feelings of isolation and distance, substance abuse, and unrealistic expectations.

Instead of joyous times with family and friends gathered together in peace and harmony, loved ones are pushed away with aggressive and potentially lethal behavior. As in all cases of domestic violence the perpetrator, usually a man, refuses to accept responsibility for his behavior, blaming his violent reaction to holiday stress on the victims.

Domestic violence flourishes and feeds on itself largely due to societal attitudes towards women and children being property and relationship violence a private matter. It lays the foundation for future generations to continue the family legacy of violence against the ones they profess to love.

It is estimated that 3.3 million children that witness family violence are likely to grow up to be abusers or abused for as it is written, the son will do what he sees the father or male role model in his life do.

I know from painstaking experience that domestic violence is a family affair affecting us all. When a woman or child is abused, we all feel the pain.

My only son Brian died at the age of 23 during a domestic dispute with his girlfriend over child visitation and my oldest daughter Nichole died from childbirth complications ten days after being savagely beaten by her husband who then played defensive back for the Indianapolis Colts.

Warning signs of a potentially abusive and life threatening situations during the holidays include:

Financial pressures;Physical fatigue or illness;Escalating arguments or conflict avoidance;Increased restlessness and agitation; andFeelings of being controlled or lacking control.

Sadly, “victims of domestic violence are less likely to report incidents of violence throughout the holidays as they cling to the image of a perfect Christmas and strive to keep the family intact.” (PsycPort News Story: Domestic Violence Peaks Around the Holidays.)

If the cycle of violence against women and child abuse is to be broken, this must change.

If you find yourself in an abusive situation regardless of the season:

Talk out your feelings without yelling, name calling, or putting down your partner – especially in front of children.Recognize quickly your physical reaction to increasing tension and conflict such as shallow or rapid breathing, tightened muscles, increased heart rate, swelling and flushed face.Avoid alcohol and other mood altering substances as well as people under the influence of alcohol or drugs;Seek medical attention immediately if assaulted; and most importantly report the incident to police.

NOTE: Michael F Craig is Founder of Heart of the Family, a nonprofit organization committed to empowering abused women and children through workshops, seminars, conferences and retreats on domestic abuse and teen dating violence. He has appeared on several popular television and radio talk shows thorughout the country and travels extensively working with youth organizations.He can be reached at heartofthefamilyinc@yahoo.com. For more information on his teen dating violence prevention initiative visit: http://heartofthefamily.tripod.com.



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