When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was not our best holiday. My mother and father would get up early to put the turkey in the oven, creating a film of heat that wafted throughout the entire kitchen. The kitchen was where my mom was relegated to for a good four hours. Sweltering made her mean. The “closeness” made her crazy and loud drunken men screaming at the television made her homicidal.
Fortunately, no one died at any of our Thanksgiving dinners, but my grandmother came close. This time of year is often associated with a rise in domestic violence. And, while any time people are reminded of the epidemic of domestic violence, focusing on the holidays and suggesting that violence increases because of the holiday stress is not authentic. According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the opposite may be true:
To date, there is no comprehensive national study linking the holidays with an increase in domestic violence. Most of the available information continues to be anecdotal or opinion pieces reflecting the experiences of advocates at a particular shelter program or law enforcement agencies in a given community. Also, an analysis of statistics from small studies and available data on calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline indicates some contradictory patterns.
Domestic violence doesn’t need a reason and we need to stop pretending that it’s only something that happens when one person is under pressure. It is ugly. There are no pretty pink ribbons or 3-Day Walks to raise money for a cure. And, there are definitely few women who would stand up publicly and own their challenge by touting they are “a survivor” of such a horrible monster. Every 9 seconds in the US a woman is assaulted or beaten. Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined. Yes, there’s more:
- Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
- Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends.
It’s time to make violence against women a federal hate crime. We need to build a culture of men and women that do not accept domestic violence as a part of life. It is a monster and we need to show our strength and defeat it.