The holiday season, from mid November until mid January, has the expectation for many to be the most joyous and wonderful time of the year. However, for victims of domestic violence the exact opposite is true. During this time period, police departments and organizations providing services to victims see a notable surge in domestic violence. This increase comes at the same time when there is often a decrease in many of the services helping victims, as oftentimes volunteers are spending time with their own families.

In Fort Bend County in Texas, after two domestic violence cases were reported in less than a day, the local police department made an announcement urging area families at risk of domestic violence to seek help before it is too late.

In the first incident, a 30 year old young mother of two children, Brittney Snow, was discovered shot to death at her home by her partner, Benjamin Jones. Snow was an active U.S. Navy Reserve. After killing Snow, Jones proceeded to shoot himself. He died later in the hospital. An infant son who was at home at the time of the killing was not injured. In the second incident, a woman named Briggitte Turner shot her husband in the stomach after an argument that spiraled out of control. The man was critically injured and hospitalized.

The spike in domestic violence during the holiday season is usually attributed to the added pressures and stress that come hand in hand with the holidays. There are unrealistic expectations that families should spend “perfect,” happy and quality time together. Some parents are also more stressed than usual as they find themselves caring for bored children who are at home from school for an extended period of time.

There are also significant financial pressures and anxieties experienced by many during these months of big get togethers, holidays parties, and gift giving. The combination of all these added stressors can lead to violent outbreaks in some cases. Alcohol consumption is another factor that can greatly increase the likelihood of domestic violence, and for many people the holiday season and booze are synonymous.

While the highest number of domestic-violence related calls typically comes in on Super Bowl Sunday, Christmas and Christmas Eve follow close behind as the second and third most violent days of the year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  domestic violence includes victimization by current or former spouses or current or former dating partners. Violence is not only physical, but can also be sexual, emotional, or economic abuse. According to Keller Law Offices, more than one million women and thousands of men are victims of domestic violence committed by an intimate partner every year.