Christmas should be a time for families and friends to gather in harmony. Unfortunately, it is often violence — not peace and joy — that will visit many American households this holiday season.
Law enforcement officials see a dramatic increase in the number of domestic assault cases between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. That means victims of domestic violence — who are often women with young children — will be seeking the help of local domestic violence shelters.
Domestic violence happens to people of all ages, races and religions. Experts say domestic violence occurs almost daily in some of the wealthiest neighborhoods of our community, as well as in the most financially depressed.
About 95 percent of victims of domestic violence are women. More than 50 percent of all women will experience physical violence in an intimate relationship, and for 30 percent of those women, the physical abuse comes on a daily basis.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says a crime of battering occurs every 15 seconds in the United States. Most abusers are men. There are some studies that show boys who grow up with domestic violence often become abusers as adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found that about 25 percent of women said they had been physically or sexually assaulted by a spouse, partner or date. Most abuse is never reported.
There are organizations that victims of domestic violence can turn to in time of need. Residents in Carter, Unicoi and Washington counties can call Contact Ministries at 926-0144. Contact is a nonprofit volunteer-based telephone helpline ministry serving Upper East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. A 24-hour hotline for Safe Passage, a shelter for battered individuals in the area, can be reached at 926-7233.