Friday, April 19, 2024

No, domestic violence doesn’t spike at the holidays. Yes, shelters still need help

WILMINGTON — It’s a common belief that domestic violence peaks around the holidays. In fact, rates stay steady – and even decrease briefly – around Christmas. But that doesn’t keep domestic violence shelters from being full.

Monthly totals for domestic violence calls made to the Wilmington Police Department. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY WILMINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT)
Monthly totals for domestic violence calls made to the Wilmington Police Department. (Port City Daily photo / COURTESY WILMINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT)

According to the Wilmington Police Department, domestic violence calls decreased during the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve for the last two years. But at Wilmington’s Domestic Violence Shelter and Services, Inc., the shelter is near capacity, according to Mandy Houvouras, direct services and outreach director.

“We don’t see a big spike, that’s one we hear quite frequently,” Houvouras said. “People assume that added stress or financial concerns around the holidays, but we believe it’s more about power and control.”

Houvouras has worked at the Domestic Violence Shelter for 10 years and said that, while “every year is different,” incidents of domestic violence may actually decrease because of the holiday season.

“People try to make it through the holiday. Many of them have children, they don’t want to break up the family at Christmas — they want to make it a nice holiday for the children,” Houvouras said. “People say, ‘I would just leave,’ but we need to remember, if it was that easy, people would do that.”

Houvouras added that the holidays can be an especially difficult time to go to a shelter.

“That’s one of the biggest fears around the holidays, being away from your family, having nowhere to go, being alone,” Houvouras added.

Like many outreach organizations and charities, the Domestic Violence Shelter sees an influx of donations around the holidays — more than the shelter can distribute. Since 1986, excess donations have sold at the shelter’s three Vintage Values store, where shelter clients can shop for free. Proceeds from the stores provide a third of the shelter’s revenue.

According to Houvouras, the Domestic Violence Shelter needs donations and volunteers after the holiday season ends. Not only do donations tend to die off after Christmas, but – according to the Wilmington Police Department, domestic violence incidents increase.

Those interested in volunteering can call the Domestic Violence Shelter at 910-343-0703. There are a number of volunteering positions available (you can fill out the application here).

There are also positions available at the three Vintage Values.

“People tell us, ‘I want to help, but I don’t know if I’m comfortable talking one-one-one with a survivor,” Houvouras said. “So, this is a good way – and a fun way – you can still help.”

Locations of the Vintages Values stores:

  • Castle Arts District — 609 Castle St.
  • Downtown — 413 S College Road, Unit 9
  • Monkey Junction — 5226 S College Road, Unit 10

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