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Domestic Abuse During The Holidays Tips To Keep Everyone Safe

Domestic-Abuse-During-The-Holidays Tips To Keep Your Community Safe

The holidays can unfortunately be an incredibly stressful time.  We had more children come into care between Thanksgiving and the New Year when I was a social worker than the rest of the year combined, with the numbers really peaking between December 20 – January 3.  While holidays should be magical, they can also be triggering due to increased performance demands and financial stress.  Combine that with a history of trauma regarding holidays and you have a recipe for disaster.  But knowing this troubling time is coming up, there are many tips on-site teams (and their regionals) can employ to help cope. 

“We don’t have child abuse or domestic disturbances at my community” said many of the on-site team I interviewed however, unfortunately this is untrue.  Conflict lives in every neighborhood and affects every culture and socioeconomic group.  According to the National Library of Medicine: “approximately 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men 18 years of age or older experience domestic violence”.  Furthermore: “each year there are over 3 million referrals to child protective authorities”. 

Here are some tips to keep your residents and staff safe this holiday season:

  • Review your company’s policies and procedures regarding child maltreatment and domestic disturbances. Don’t just read them for yourself, ensure your staff know as well.  Take the time during a staff meeting to truly review these policies and then do some role plays so when your staff encounters this in real life, they are less likely to freeze (or flee).  If your company does not have a policy, it’s time to sit down with HR and craft one. 
  • Keep emergency numbers for Children’s Services, Victim Advocates, Shelters in the area, etc handy. The last thing you want to be doing during a crisis time is googling. 
  • Keep your eyes and ears open. Are you noticing a lot of women coming and going out of a certain apartment?  Did you see a parent unnecessarily grab a child?  Many times, there will be signs that something isn’t right but not an actual crime/reportable incident.  You won’t be able to call any authorities but what you can do is take notes.  If something eventually happens this will help authorities in their investigation and could very well help you to protect someone vulnerable. 
  • Never intervene on your own. When a crisis happens, we often want to jump right in and help however that can often lead to even more chaos.  Leave an intervention to the experts and call the police if you or someone at your property feels threatened.
  • Communicate your concerns with your co-workers. No, this isn’t an invitation to gossip but rather to have you both assess what you’ve seen or heard and compare it to your policies and procedures.  Not sure?  Ask HR.
  • When in doubt, report! It is better to report suspected abuse than to brush it off.  Regardless of your personal feelings, the professionals will know if there is an issue and what to do about it.  If you did report an abuse, you could have saved a life and provided a victim with support and counseling.  If you report and there has been no crime or abuse, the professionals will be able to do an assessment and then close the file.

Remember that while your community is having fun and gearing up for the holidays, you likely have many residents who are struggling and stressed and keeping these tips in mind can help to keep your community peaceful and full of joy this holiday season!   

 
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

This is such an important and poignant blog, Lilah. All too often, people often see family issues as personal, private affairs, even when there are signs of abuse. I knew that the holiday season can get stressful, but it never occurred to me that it would manifest in this way, so thank you for sharing!

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Exactly Brent! The saying of "it takes a village" is so true!

  Lilah Poltz

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