Holiday Hush: Domestic violence survivors suffering in secret

How can you help family, friends, or even strangers

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One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. One in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year. Domestic violence is known to rise during the holidays and unfortunately, it’s even common for survivors that have made it out to go back to their abusers this time of year.

When uncontrollable stressors rise, so does domestic violence.

“When they lose control, they’ll do anything to take it back,” said Carol Wick, CEO of Sharity Global.

But not every sign of abuse comes with a black and blue mark. If you see someone constantly humiliating their significant other, controlling their access to money, making all the decisions, demanding attention—these are all signs of abuse. So how can you help family, friends, or even strangers in these situations?

You may be able to offer them a lifeline. Always make sure to talk in private. Simply ask them how they are—don’t accuse them of anything.

Create a safety plan in case of an emergency, including a code word to express they need help.

Designate a safe place to go. Pack an escape bag with cash, clothes, important documents, and keys. Keep this bag with a friend, not inside their home. And make an emergency contact list.

Most importantly… “Don’t try to attack the abuser. Don’t try to demean the person,” said Wick.

If you or a loved one is in danger, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

January is called the month of change because survivors finally have the courage and resources to leave. So, the holidays and new year are a great time to volunteer at your local shelter and if you need to reach out go to

If you or someone you know is or has been a victim of domestic violence or abuse, there are also other resources available:

  • The Florida Domestic Violence Hotline, which will direct you to the nearest shelter, is 1-800-500-1119
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24 hours a day. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE
  • The Micah’s Place (Nassau County) Domestic Violence Help Hotline is 904-225-9979
  • The Hubbard House in Jacksonville can be reached by dialing 904-354-3114
  • The Betty Griffin Center in St. Johns County can be reached at 904-824-1555