Eastern Domestic Violence Service warns 'tis the season to beware

DOMESTIC violence is the unwelcome visitor that is so out of keeping with the Christmas spirit, but which arrives as surely as scorching summer weather.

Police and welfare agencies blame the increased time families spend together and excessive alcohol consumption for the seasonal spike in domestic conflict.

Eastern Domestic Violence Service executive officer Maryclaire Machen said her organisation invariably saw an increase in cases around late December and into the new year.

Knox police's family violence liaison officer Sergeant Danny Keane said a number of issues often combined at Christmas time.

"It can be finances, alcohol, the warmer weather. Sometimes people can't get away because they can't afford it, so they're in an enclosed space."

He said that couples often wanted to spoil each other, but couldn't because they were struggling to pay off the mortgage.

Ms Machen believes the main reason incidents occur more regularly at that time of year is due to the extra time families spend together.

But Ms Machen didn't blame alcohol for causing violence — she said men "just use it as an excuse".

Anti-violence campaigner Danny Blay agreed that family violence incidents increased at Christmas, but said his services faced the opposite demand.

Mr Blay is executive officer of the No To Violence association which seeks to prevent male family violence. "Men don't reach out at a time of crisis. But we have a big demand when they go back to work, or the kids go back to school," he said. 

Mr Blay urged men to take a step back from the situation and consider who was being affected by their behaviour. "Think who is being affected [and ask] am I making people in my family scared of me?"

Sergeant Keane said he would be making weekly visits to families that were known to police before Christmas. "We'll visit, make phone calls, to see how things are going."

He urged families in Knox to be tolerant of each other during the Christmas holidays.

"Respect one another. It's a joyous occasion and we don't want police involved."

EDVOS can be contacted on 9259 4200 and on public holidays on 1800 015 188. No to Violence can be reached on 1800 065 973.

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