There is a long-standing rumor that the domestic violence rate increases during the holiday season. It certainly sounds like it could be true.
After all, interpersonal tensions are high, people are stressed about travel and money, and the expectation is that families will be spending a lot of time together.
If you simply heard this rumor reported in the news, you would likely accept it as a simple fact. So, is it true that Minnesota domestic violence goes up over the holidays?
Short answer: No.
The Domestic Violence Spike Myth Is Unproven
Despite the annual repeating of this myth, there are no national, reliable studies that can back up the claim that domestic violence spikes during the holiday season.
Evidence Supporting the Claim is Anecdotal
Many reports of domestic violence spiking over the holidays come from anecdotal evidence. This might be from individual DV shelters reporting a rise in inquiries, or from a single officer or police department alleging they’ve received more DV calls.
However, the National Resource Center on Domestic Abuse found that there is no reputable, large-scale study showing this to be the case.
A Case Could Be Made That the Opposite Is True
In fact, holidays may actually be a time when domestic abuse victims are less likely to reach out. For example, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reports a significant dip in calls on holidays compared to the average day.
There is a lot of speculation for why this dip occurs. Victims wanting to “keep the peace” during holidays. An increase of potential witnesses keeping abusers in check. Or simply a lower number of abuse incidents occurring.
Why Worry About Holiday Domestic Violence Rumors?
The problem with the myth of the holiday domestic violence spike is two-fold. Simply put, perpetuating this myth can result in victims getting stuck in a cycle of abuse, and outsiders making mistakes.
The Myth Helps Victims Justify Real, Cyclical Abuse
First, saying that domestic violence “spikes” at a certain time imply that it is sometimes a one-off problem.
Domestic abuse is almost always an ongoing, long-term problem in a relationship. Claiming that it’s a short-term or one-time issue could result in victims not reporting their abusers.
Instead, they believe that it “won’t happen again,” and get stuck in a cycle of abuse.
Neighbors Who Think They’re Helping Simply Aren’t
The second problem is that, since it is widely believed that abuse does spike during the holidays, other people are primed to see it.
If a family member or friend sees an argument or harsh words, they are already primed to believe that domestic violence is possible, or even likely. This can result in domestic violence being reported in cases where it is not occurring.
Overzealous Policing Can Occur
Similarly, the police may be more primed to look for domestic violence. If an officer arrives on the scene, they may be more likely to see domestic violence and abuse and make an arrest where one is not warranted.
For a Minnesota resident who is on parole or who has a criminal record, this can result in unnecessary jail time, high bail, or even the revocation of parole.
In Minnesota, certain parole agreements state that that aggressive behavior is cause for revoking parole. If police are called to a potential domestic violence incident, regardless of whether anyone is charged with DV, they can still report “aggressive behavior.”
An Expert Minnesota DV Defense Attorney Can Help
Essentially, the myth that domestic violence increases during the holidays can harm people on both sides of the coin. This common misperception makes the holidays a particularly dangerous time for people who already have a criminal record.
That said, even if yours is a spotless record, that doesn’t mean you won’t find yourself facing charges. Don’t face them on your own. An expert Minnesota defense attorney can help.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).