Holiday season no time for celebration for some

By Cam Lee
December 6, 2018 - 11:00am

Not everyone enjoys the Christmas holidays.

While it is a joyous time for many, for others living in the spectre of domestic violence it can even more difficult according to a spokesperson for the North East Outreach and Support Services (NEOSS). 

"For some families yes, the holidays are beautiful and made of happy, happy memories," NEOSS Executive Director Louise Schweitzer said. "For others, sadly, it's not, and for the women and children that are definitely in our (domestic violence) shelter it's still a time of trauma which we try to ease as much as we can with the gracious support of our community and our staff that are second-to-none that work with our families in the facility."

A number of factors can all act as triggers for violence in the home.

"There (are) some people out there that really dread the holidays because that means that their significant other may be home for extended periods because of closures due to the holidays," Schweitzer said. "That means that they're home with them longer. It also sometimes increases the intensity of the alcohol that's consumed in a home, which again is a risk factor. It's not the reason but it's definitely a risk factor when it's involved with domestic violence."

Another possible risk factor is the financial pressure that comes from trying to pay for Christmas gifts.

For people ready to leave an abusive situation, Schweitzer said you can set yourself up and have a plan.

"Having your stuff ready to go, you can look at safety plans, making sure that if things get to the point where you feel unsafe, or your family feels unsafe, definitely call 9-1-1 and ask for help," she said. "The RCMP can respond, or others to assist you to make sure you and your children are safe. No one deserves to be treated like that and no one brings it on, so remember that it's not your fault if you're being abused."

The crisis line is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-611-6349, and Schweitzer said there are many other professionals you can speak to if you feel you need to reach out.

Schweitzer said the domestic violence shelter in Melfort has been pretty busy over the holidays.

"Last year our shelter was not full to capacity through the holidays. The year before it was," she said. "There's many, many factors that are involved. There's so many things that impact the situations of domestic violence."

Schweitzer added that the holidays is about more than material goods.

"The greatest gift we can give each other is happiness and safety, and we need to remember that," Schweitzer said.

National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women marked across Canada

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