By Kayla Woody, House of Hope Prevention Specialist
As we enter the summer months, families are packing up for vacation, kids are finally escaping class, and the weather is sure to change. Along with the rise in temperature comes a rise in domestic violence cases for shelter advocates and hotlines.
Yes, you read that correctly. Summertime is not always fun and carefree for everyone.
According to a survey prepared by the U.S Department of Justice, Seasonal Patterns in Criminal Victimization Trends, intimate partner violence increases by 12 percent in the summer months compared to other seasons.
Some factors that come in to play are:
- Increased stresses due to summer break for children
- Increased temperatures
- Lack of activities and increased idle time for teens
- Increase of alcohol and drug intake
While these factors do seem to increase abuse, they are certainly not the cause of domestic violence and are not to blame. In other words, intoxication doesn’t cause abuse, and sobriety doesn’t stop it.
Iowa State University Professor Craig Anderson compares data about hot and not-as-hot states in his paper titled Heat and Violence. He proposes a “heat hypothesis” that says hot temperatures can escalate aggression by directly increasing feelings of hostility and indirectly increasing aggressive thoughts.
Another important factor and a major group that is affected by domestic violence during the summer are our teens. With an increase in parties, drinking and idle time, teen dating violence becomes a horrible outcome for most. The Department of Justice also states that women ages 16 to 24 are at the highest risk of becoming victims of domestic violence. Teen dating violence is any form of abuse that takes place in a relationship including physical, sexual, mental or emotional. These can have serious effects on future relationships for developing teens.
For parents with teens, here are some tips on how to reduce the probability of your teen experiencing dating abuse:
- Monitor social media sites
- Communicate often about healthy relationships to your teen
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and have an open dialog with your teen
If communication with your teen is difficult, there are always great resources to help. A list of popular books to offer your kiddos during their down time may include, In Love and In Danger: A Teen’s Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson or even Breathing Underwater by Alex Finn.
With one in three women and one in four men in a violent domestic relationship, it is possible that you or someone you care about is one of these victims. In that case, there are steps to take that can remove you or that person from the situation into a safe environment. Many safety planning checklists instruct a person to do the following:
- Find a safe place to stay, which can include family, friends or a local shelter
- Pack a bag and hide in a safe place
- Call a local domestic violence hotline for assistance
- Keep important documents in a safe location
- Practice how to get out of a room or home safely
- Change or open new accounts
- Change locks
Even though you do not have control over your partner’s violence, you do have a choice about how to respond and how best to escape an unsafe situation.
If you are experiencing intimate partner violence, sexual assault or stalking and have questions, please contact House of Hope’s crisis line at 405-878-4673 or visit us online at facebook.com/cpnhouseofhope.