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Tips for avoiding holiday domestic violence

It's a sad fact that for some families, the holidays are less a source of joy and more an occasion of domestic violence. The stresses of holiday shopping, overspending and extended periods around difficult family members can take a toll on even the most even-keeled among us. For those already keeping their tempers on a short leash, the holidays can tip the apple cart into a disastrous direction.

Below are some tips to keep in mind for your own safety if you are worried that a domestic violence episode will mar the holiday for you and your children.

Commit important numbers to memory

In the heat of the moment when fleeing the scene of domestic violence, you may not have access to your cellphone and your contact numbers. Memorize the local police number and those of family or friends who can rescue you and the kids.

Prearrange a safe word

Even if you are able to answer or make calls, you may not be able to talk freely. Have a prearranged "safe word" that you use with a contact to indicate that you are in distress and the situation has deteriorated. It should be something that is unusual but common enough to insert into a conversation without tipping off an abuser. Something holiday-related might be a good choice, e.g., "Christmas lights" or "sweet potato pie."

Don't let an abuser isolate you at family gatherings

You will generally be safest around groups of people. Having others around makes it difficult for abusers to build up a head of steam before lashing out. Others — especially those forewarned to act as your advocate — can often defuse a situation that could potentially turn violent.

Keep cash on your person

In generations past, this was often referred to as "mad money," the sum needed to arrange rides home for women when dates go awry. Pin a couple of $20 bills to the inside of your bra or fold them into the watch pocket on your jeans. If you have to flee suddenly, at least you won't be broke.

Remember that it doesn't have to continue this way

Are you ready to break free of the chains of abuse from domestic violence? A Maricopa County family law attorney can help by filing the necessary documents with the court to start a divorce and obtain a protective order.

Source: The Pixel Project, "The Pixel Project's "16 For 16" Campaign," Regina, accessed Nov. 17, 2017

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