This is not the "most wonderful time of the year" for some - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

This is not the "most wonderful time of the year" for some

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The holiday season is here. And that's not good news for some people.
Domestic violence advocates say situations around the holidays escalate violence in homes.

Experts say the increased time families spend together, the parties and drinking, and the stress of money - all play a role in the intensity of domestic violence from Thanksgiving Night through the New Year.

Vicky Lingerfelt of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence says "even Christmas Eve we've had women with their children come into the shelter because a fight had broken out".

Advocates say many women don't call 9-1-1 during the holidays because they want to keep their families in tact for the sake of the children.

Experts say people need to keep a close eye on friends and family members - and if they notice unusual behaviors - encourage women to seek shelter and always be there for them.

Some domestic violence survivors say their batterers isolated them from families and friends during the holidays.

Amy Waters Houser says she suffered years of physical abuse - "black eyes, pushing and shoving, head butting, threw knives at me, pointed guns at me". But she says there was "no violence during the holidays - just being kept away from family and loved ones - just isolated".

Houser says she just dealt with it. "Holidays - supposed to be a happy time - not a happy time, supposed to be exciting, kids are supposed to be going to grandparents house and seeing aunts, uncles, cousins. They didn't get to do that. They were home. They didn't get gifts until later".

Jan - who just moved into a shelter - says "it's very bad around the holidays. He tears down the Christmas trees, breaks ornaments, doesn't let me see anyone, isolates me from all my friends".

Jan says she learned to cope with her batterer's abuse as best as possible. She says "she stayed away from his path, kept her voice down, not argue so it didn't escalate to physical".

For Jan - safety is in a shelter. She says "everyday was terrible but I dreaded the holidays because I couldn't make them what they should be for my son".

She expects to stay in the shelter for the holidays this year. "I hope to be in a safe environment - plan Thanksgiving for my son, Christmas for my son, make it the best I can make it", says Jan.

Advocates warn the end of the holidays doesn't mean less agony for victims.

Lingerfelt, of the Lincoln County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says "after Christmas and first of the year when bills come in, and credit card bills, and there's not money to pay the other bills and credit card bills are due and she's trying to pay that - that's when a lot of it starts".

If you or someone you know needs help with domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE and someone will give you contact information for shelters and programs in your area.

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