Holiday abuse: Season tough on domestic violence victims, families

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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The holidays can be a tough time for victims of domestic abuse.

Advocates say some victims don't want to seek help this time of year.

WEAU 13 News sat down with a domestic violence advocate at The Bridge to Hope in Menomonie.

Mary Lillo said a good number of victims want to keep things as is because of added social pressure and so kids can have a home for the holidays.

“There's also a sense of guilt in leaving, and ‘How am I going to provide for the kids and have a good holiday?’ They'll keep the peace, often the status quo,” Lillo said.

The domestic violence advocate said some victims feel it's a safe time to act, after the lights have stopped twinkling and the trees have come down.

“Or perhaps their abuser really misbehaved over the holidays and they're fed up and that was the end for them,” Lillo said.

Advocates say added stress and drinking during the holiday season are sometimes used as an excuse for domestic violence.

“We know the research shows it really isn’t about those things. It's about power and control,” Lillo said
Lillo said abuse is a constant problem, causing refuges like The Bridge to Hope to be packed with survivors throughout the year.

New numbers from the Eau Claire Police Department show domestic abuse arrests around the same level over the past three years, with 441 arrests in 2012, 453 in 2011 and 472 in 2010.

Despite this, the local advocate said over the years more victims are getting help to become survivors.

“Abuse is never your fault, no matter what. Everyone deserves to live without abuse in their life and there are good people out there that are willing to help support a survivor get out of an abusive situation,” Lillo said.

Here are some domestic abuse resources in the area:

Bolton Refuge House in Eau Claire: 715-834-9578

The Family Support Center in Chippewa Falls: 715-723-1138

The Bridge to Hope in Menomonie: 715- 235-9073

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