Do domestic violence cases increase over the holidays?

10News reporter Garin Flowers spoke to a domestic violence expert to see if there is a connection between domestic violence and the holidays

ST. PETERBURG, FL -- If you search online for man shoots wife, domestic dispute or domestic violence, you'll get a lot of recent results just from December.

A lot of these incidents happened right around Christmas and the New Year celebration. It started to make us wonder, does domestic violence get worse during the holidays?

Two local cases happened just two days ago. In Seffner, a 31-year-old man killed his stepson when he beat and threw him into a wall.

In Polk County, later that day, a man visiting from Kentucky got into an argument with his nephew. He ended up shooting and killing him in addition to shooting his niece who's still recovering.

We found at least eight other domestic-related deaths across the country. While these incidents were bunched into a month time frame, Mindy Murphy with Springs of Tampa Bay says it's not unique to this time of the year. 

“The news always kind of wants to simplify something and say okay, domestic violence must increase at the holidays, but the reality is that's a little bit of a myth. Domestic violence is occurring every day,” she said.

Data from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence backs that up, showing fewer calls to the National Domestic Violence Hotline on holidays than on an average day.

“They always happen because someone has made a choice out there. The person who commits the murder or hits the person, they’re making a choice for their behavior. It’s a myth to think that most of the folks who batter or who abuse children are mentally ill, they’re not,” Mindy said.  

And, if you are a victim of domestic violence, the domestic violence expert has some advice. 

“You don't have to come into [a] shelter to get help. We provide more services to survivors outside of shelter than we do inside. We actually have attorneys on staff who can assist with injunctions for protection, no charge at all to a survivor,” she said.

The Springs of Tampa Bay has been around for 40 years. The number to reach them is 813-247-SAFE (7233).

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