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Does domestic violence spike over the holiday season?

Does domestic violence spike over the holiday season?

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women and one in nine men in the United States will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

Around the holidays, there’s a common perception of a spike in the number of domestic violence cases.

However, one local expert said that’s not necessarily true.

Marsha Travis, the director of programs at Favor House, said violence is a problem year-round, but the cases are more severe during the holidays.

Victim Lakesha packed up her bags to leave an abusive relationship.

"When he came in behind me he closed the door, he grabbed me by my neck and he choked me until I passed out,” she said in a video by Favor House.

Lakesha is one of an estimated 10 million people who become victims in the country each year.

Travis said last year, there were more than 2,300 reported incidents in Escambia County and more than 700 in Santa Rosa County.

In both counties combined, five people were killed in domestic violence-related incidents in 2017.

"So I think a lot of time it's downplayed until someone is actually killed, but domestic violence goes on in a great rate in our own community,” said Travis.

She said the number of cases typically does not increase during the holidays, but they become more violent.

Travis said one factor is money.

"You don't have that income because you're spending, and if you overspend... that's gonna be what? The arguments, the fighting and that's why we see the more seriousness of it happening,” she said.

Travis said it’s also because people typically drink more during the holidays and spend more time together.

She encourages all victims to come forward, although it may not be easy.

"It's still something that's embarrassing, people still shy away from it. When someone comes to us as a victim they probably left on average seven times going to family friends trying to seek services or help,” said Travis.

It’s a move that may have saved Lakesha’s life.

"I told her I wanna get out. I'm afraid of him. He’s gonna kill me,” she said.

Favor House offers a variety of services for victims including counseling and housing. To learn more visit their website here.

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