Domestic violence cases expected to spike after holidays

Domestic violence cases expected to spike after holidays

Posted:
"One in four women will have this issue affect them in their lifetime," said Amy Dilworth, executive director of the Family Justice Center in Knoxville. "One in four women will have this issue affect them in their lifetime," said Amy Dilworth, executive director of the Family Justice Center in Knoxville.
The Family Justice Center serves more than 2,000 victims of domestic violence every year. The Family Justice Center serves more than 2,000 victims of domestic violence every year.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - On Monday night, many families across the country are having Christmas Eve get-togethers with their loved ones. But for some families, the threat of domestic violence could put a damper on their holiday plans.

The statistics may not be what most people would think.

Domestic violence shelters say they see a drop in cases right around Christmas, but those numbers rise as soon as the holiday spirit comes to an end.

Tennessee ranks third in the nation for women murdered by men.

"One in four women will have this issue affect them in their lifetime," said Amy Dilworth, executive director of the Family Justice Center in Knoxville.

They serve more than 2,000 victims of domestic violence every year.

"Every 30 minutes, there is a call that goes out in Knox County regarding domestic violence," said Dilworth.

In the days surrounding Christmas, they see almost no one coming in requesting their help.

Dilworth says in an effort to keep their families together for the holidays, many victims will ignore the abuse.

"Maybe think the magic of the holidays will heal things, make things good. Maybe the bad things will stop. That kind of thinking," said Dilworth.

But the stress of the holidays finally breaks and things blow up. Right after New Years, victims come flooding into the Justice Center, looking for a way out.

Victims shouldn't endure the violence during Christmas.

"Be prepared to do what you have to do. The decisions you make are yours to make. Don't worry about the outcome for someone else. Do what's best for you and for your children," she said.

Having a safety plan in place is of the utmost importance.

"Keep their cell phone with them and charged. Keep their keys with them. Know every way out of their house. That their children know how to call 911. That their cell phone is programmed with one button push," said Dilworth.

The holidays are a good reminder that domestic violence affects everyone.

"It affects all of us. In some way, it affects all of us. It is our issue," said Dilworth.

The Family Justice Center can help families create a safety plan specific to their situation. More information is available on their website.

They also have a 24/7 Family Violence Helpline, which can be reached at 865-521-6336.

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