Tips to prevent domestic abuse during the holidays

Estimated read time 3 min read

Unfortunately, the holidays can be a very stressful time. When I worked as a social worker, more children were placed in care between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s than all the other days of the year. The numbers peaked between December 20-January 3. Holidays can be a trigger for children due to the increased demands on performance and financial stress. Combining that with traumatizing memories of holidays can be a recipe for disaster. There are many ways to cope with this difficult time, both for the on-site team and their regionals.

Unfortunately, this is not true. Conflict is a reality in all neighborhoods and it affects people of every socioeconomic and cultural background. According to the National Library of Medicine, “approximately one in three women and one in ten men aged 18 or older experience domestic abuse”. In addition, “each and every year, there are more than 3 million referrals made to child protection authorities”.

Keep your staff and residents safe during the holiday season with these tips:

  • Review the policies and procedures of your company regarding domestic disturbances and child abuse. Do not just read the policies for yourself; make sure your staff is also aware. In a staff meeting, review the policies thoroughly and do role-plays so that your staff is less likely to freeze or flee when they encounter these situations in real life. It’s time for you to sit down and create a company policy if your company doesn’t have one.
  • Keep the emergency numbers of Children’s Services in your area, Victim Advocates and Shelters nearby handy. You don’t want to googling during a time of crisis.
  • Be alert. You may have noticed a large number of women entering and leaving a particular apartment. Have you seen a parent grab an unnecessarily a child without reason? There are many times signs that indicate something is wrong, but it’s not a crime or reportable incident. Take notes. You will not be able call the authorities, but you can take them. This will aid authorities in their investigations and may even help you protect someone who is vulnerable.
  • Never act alone. We often want to help in a crisis, but this can lead to more chaos. Call the police and leave the intervention to the professionals if you feel threatened or someone on your property does.
  • Share your concerns with co-workers. This is not an invitation to gossip, but to compare what you have seen or heard to your own policies and procedures. Not sure? Not sure?
  • Report if in doubt! Reporting suspected abuse is better than brushing it off. Professionals will be able to tell if there’s a problem and what they can do. You could have saved someone’s life by reporting an abuse and providing support and counselling to the victim. If you report an abuse and no crime has occurred, professionals can do an evaluation and close the file.

Keep in mind that your community may have residents who are stressed or struggling. These tips can help you keep your community calm and joyful this holiday season.

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