Domestic violence rises after Christmas, Lincoln nonprofit says

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – This time of year brings stress of all kinds, and in abusive relationships, it can cause dangerous situations.

Marla Sohl, the sexual assault services coordinator for Voices of Hope, said the organization sees an increase in domestic violence before and after the holidays.

“Sometimes I think survivors of domestic violence might feel trapped during this kind of time,” Sohl said. “Being isolated with their abuser might be a pretty difficult time of year for them.”

Voices of Hope helps around 2,000 new victims of domestic violence every year.

Sohl said the days immediately surrounding holidays are normally pretty quiet for the organization.

“During the holidays, people are around family and friends, so sometimes the abuse isn’t as prevalent because they’re with other people,” Sohl said.

But unfortunately, the relief doesn’t last long for many victims.

This time of year can bring financial and emotional stress for many families, which can trigger abuse just before or after the holidays, when the victim is not surrounded by others.

“It can be difficult to find hope, especially in a season where there’s so much pressure to perform,” Sohl said. “There’s so much pressure to have the perfect holiday, the perfect thing for your kids.”

Sohl said there are some key indicators of an abusive relationship to look out for.

“Abuse is about power and control, so it’s about having access to their victim at all times, trying to isolate their victim, knowing who they’re talking to, what kind of conversations they’re having, that kind of controlling behavior,” she said.

Voices of Hope has been proactive this year in trying to relieve some financial stress for people who are struggling.

“When we’re able to offer some assistance like presents, that kind of takes the pressure off of the survivor, who’s already trying to just navigate an abusive situation in the first place without all of the extra hardship that comes along with the holiday season,” Sohl said.

She said Voices of Hope tries to prepare for people who need help, but every victim is facing a unique situation.

Her message to survivors was simple: You are not alone.

She said anyone who needs help is always welcome at Voices of Hope.

“We don’t take a break on the holidays,” Sohl said. “We’ll be available during the holiday as well, so anybody can call and reach out during that time if they need assistance.”

The Voices of Hope Crisis Line is available 24/7 at 402-475-7273, and its website is linked here.

Other resources in the area include:

Friendship Home

Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

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