I-Team: Holidays can lead to grief, loss, and domestic violence

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- As families across the Triangle prepare their home for the holidays, police departments are preparing their squads for what they fear is an inevitable tragedy - domestic violence.

"It's an unfortunate incident - families fight and they will verbally and physically abuse each other," Lt. E. A. DeSimone, with the Raleigh Police Department, lamented to the ABC11 I-Team. "Sometimes families get together and they argue and then it escalates. They could be arguing over something you and I think is petty, but it's much more serious to them."

DeSimone is in charge of RPD's Youth and Family Services Division, which includes the Domestic Violent Unit.

He lists several key factors that frequently lead to abuse cases during the holidays:

  • Financial or job pressures
  • Family tensions
  • Crowded homes
  • Alcohol

He added that cases in Christmases past involved more than just couples.

"Brothers against brothers, sisters against sisters," DeSimone recalled. "Alcohol affects people in different ways and it makes them think differently."

Interestingly, the I-Team's research into holiday violence shows what could be interpreted as a Christmas miracle.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, calls decrease between 5 percent to 25 percent between Dec. 15 and Jan. 1.

On Jan. 2 however, the rate of calls increases 5 percent, which DeSimone said is no accident.

"That could be a victim's New Year's resolution - to fight back for themselves finally and report this," he asserted. "And that's what we hope they would do."

MORE: National Resource Center on Domestic Violence "Holiday Toolbox"

Also during the holidays, many families may be experiencing depression and loss.

The I-Team on Friday also speaking with counselors at Transitions LifeCare of Wake County, who implore those dealing with grief to be honest with their emotions and communicate openly.

"If anything, its the opposite of being selfish," counselor Laura Bradbury explained. "When we practice self-care, we are setting an example to ourselves and the rest of the world that we are all valuable human beings and all of our feelings are worthwhile and self-care is something we can practice."

Bradbury offers five strategies to cope with the sadness related to missing someone during the holidays:

  • Manage expectations - acknowledge this year is different than other years
  • Shift traditions - if it's been a difficult year, change things
  • Open communication - find comfort and strength in the support of those close to you
  • Planning ahead - think about the triggers of grief and what to avoid
  • Self-care and preservation - do things for yourself that enables you to be emotionally stable
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