Christmas stress triggers violence

EXTRA stress during the Christmas period triggers more frequent and severe domestic violence towards women, according to an advocacy group.

Women’s Aid said the extra pressures placed on women over the festive season can exacerbate incidents of domestic violence. In particular, women are reporting increasing financial abuse by their by ex-partners and ex-husbands.

Examples of financial abuse include withholding money for Christmas presents and food, withholding child maintenance and forcing the woman to take debt in her name to meet the family financial needs.

Manager of Women’s Aid’s freephone helpline Sarah Benson said: “There are specific ways in which the Christmas period impacts upon the way women are abused. Abusive men may be at home more over the Christmas or may be drinking more.”

“While alcohol is not responsible for domestic violence, it does act as a disinhibitor for abusive men and this may lead to more violent episodes. Also, there is a notable increase of financial abuse.”

According to Ms Benson, many women experiencing increased abuse will work hard to maintain the status quo so the family holiday will not be affected.

“We know anecdotally from our helpline that women work really hard to keep the peace and calm during the Christmas season and the lead-up to it, especially if they have children.”

* The Women’s Aid Helpline is open from 10am-10pm seven days a week (except Christmas Day) at 1800 341 900.


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