Rise in domestic violence over the holidays; help is available

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ST. LOUIS – The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most dangerous for some. Police and advocates for those affected by domestic violence point to data that shows a rise in domestic violence during the holiday season. But they also say there is a lot of help available for people who find themselves in dangerous situations.

Every year, approximately 10 million people are the victims of intimate partner abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Police say they see a spike in those cases over the holidays in particular. Over at The Women’s Safe House, a domestic violence shelter in St. Louis, they say they have seen an increase in the need for their services over the past two weeks. CEO Mary Ann Owens said they want to be there for women and their families who feel they are in danger this Christmas.

“We all want to count our blessings during the holidays, and abuse is not a blessing,” Owens said.

Owens said they are just one of numerous women’s shelters in the St. Louis area at full capacity.

“We are full. We can have 60 people living here at a time, and we have 60 women and children here right now,” he said. “And many of them have come in the past two weeks because of the spike during the holidays.

Owens said the people they help stay at the shelter for six months on average. They house them in renovated rooms, provide them with their own showers, kitchen space, health services, adult and child support groups and connect the women with job resources. Owens said if a woman ever feels she is in a dangerous relationship, their doors are wide open.

“We help them with everything they need to be able to live on their own and thrive on their own,” she said.

So, why do domestic violence cases spike over the holidays? Ferguson Chief of Police Troy Doyle tells FOX 2 that multiple factors can contribute to the surge, including unresolved family conflicts, financial concerns and alcohol consumption. Owens agrees, saying the stress of the holidays is often a tipping point.

“Everybody’s stressed out, so the abuse gets worse,” Owens said. “No mother wants to see her children live with that. Sometimes, it’s the tipping point. It’s the final thing. They think, ‘I cannot do this any longer,'”

If you or someone you know needs help getting out of a dangerous situation, there are many resources available. You can call the National Domestic Violence Center’s 24-hour Hotline at 800-799-7233. The Women’s Safe House also has a 24-hour hotline: 314-772-4535. You can also visit their web site,, for more information and to get connected with resources.


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