While many people think of the holidays as safe and festive, the reality for many people is often much harsher. Family stress increases during this busy season, and family court filings spike in North Carolina after the holidays.
Family troubles combined with an uptick in alcohol consumption can result in domestic violence. If you are concerned about the possibility that you and your children could be victimized by domestic violence this season, you should make plans to protect yourself:
- If you or your children are in imminent danger, call 911 or get to a domestic violence shelter immediately. Never take chances with your or your children’s safety.
- If you are worried about domestic violence, call your local domestic violence shelter for information about warning signs and safety measures. A counselor can help you understand the cycle of violence and how best to get to safety when needed.
- Create a plan for escape in case you need it. Think now about how you can get yourself and your children out should you need to.
- Talk to family and friends you trust about your situation and ask them to help you if need be. Do not be embarrassed or ashamed. Your fears and concerns are real and the situation is not your fault, despite what your abuser may try to make you believe.
- Make a mental list of people and organizations available to assist you should you need immediate assistance. Planning ahead if you are concerned about your safety is a wise step.
- Talk to your family law attorney about protective orders, enforcement of existing orders, and legal remedies that can protect you and your children.
- Be careful about your use of electronic devices if you believe your abuser may check your email, texts, or browsing history. Leave no trace of people you have contacted or plans you have made.
If you have left an abuser, follow these steps to stay safe this holiday season:
- Never post your travel, social or holiday plans on social media where they can be seen by your abuser.
- Talk with your family law attorney about the terms of your protective order and exactly how it works and is enforced.
- Be careful when walking, getting in your car, or entering your home alone.
- Install locks and a security system if at all possible. Do not hide a key to your home outside.
- Make sure your neighbors and co-workers know you were victimized in the past so that they can be on the lookout for you.
- Try not to be a creature of habit. Following the same routine makes you easy to find.
- Keep a copy of your protective order with you at all times.