By Tanya O'Shea, IMPACT Community Services Managing Director
The holiday period is typically a time of more.
More relaxing, more family time, more spending, more food, and more alcohol.
But for families who experience domestic and family violence, more is a frightening reality.
While many of our community members experience more love and joy, others are preparing for a time of uncertainty.
Existing family tensions, fueled by substance abuse and prolonged exposure to stressful environments, create the busiest time of year for family support providers.
In an environment where referrals for Intensive Family Support are already overflowing, and Government Departments are struggling to manage the number of intakes, we are urging people to make a change these holidays.
A 2018 study on family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia found seasonal changes, such as Christmas and New Year, have been linked to increased rates of family violence.
It identified increased contact, financial stress, and consumption of alcohol as possible explanations for the rise in violence.
We want our Bundaberg community to enjoy this time of year without the worry of family aggression.
Other than the obvious step of consuming fewer harmful substances, reducing the amount of stress can also help.
Simple ways to reduce stress include acknowledging your feelings, reaching out to others, being realistic, learning to say no, continuing healthy habits, and taking “me” time.
Expectations around presents and how much money is spent can also be stress-inducing.
Overspending is often avoidable, so try to set an affordable budget and work to it; remember, children can only play with one toy at a time, and most adults already have everything they need.
This time of year is about giving thanks for the blessings in life, and maintaining or developing everyday good choices is important: eat healthy meals, drink plenty of water, get enough sleep and exercise your body.
Being able to identify triggers in others is also an important step to diffusing a situation before something more occurs.
The most common displays of this include hypersensitivity, verbal abuse, controlling behaviour, unrealistic expectations, isolation, blaming, threats, and the use of force.
2020 has already been an incredibly trying time for many and added stresses need to be left behind this holiday season.
Take each day as it comes and breathe through the difficulties.
The minor inconveniences will only affect us as much as we let them.
Have a wonderful end of year and we look forward to continuing this column in the New Year of 2021.
If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship you can phone DV Connect’s 24/7 women’s line on 1800 811 811 or their men’s line from 9am to midnight on 1800 600 636.