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As the University is returning from Winter Break, the HAVEN team thought we’d offer the following…

There is a perception that the holidays can be an especially risky time for those in abusive relationships.  The thought that an individual may be ‘stuck’ at home with an abusive partner or family member during the holidays (marked as the time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day) may seem to present unique challenges for those who may be experiencing IPV. Some have said the Super Bowl is another time when there is an increase in incidents of IPV.

Based on the available research, it is uncertain if there is an increase in IPV during the holiday season. There are studies that find, in part due to financial stress or increased alcohol consumption, there are more reported incidents of relationship violence, especially around New Year’s Day. While another study suggests there are fewer calls to national hotlines during the holidays (perhaps, in part, because impacted individuals may not feel safe calling when they are in greater contact with the person who is perpetrating violence).

At UNC-Chapel Hill, we recognize there is no particular ‘season’ or ‘day’ when an individual may be at greater risk of interpersonal violence. While financial stress, alcohol, and other factors, may contribute to an increase risk of violence, these concerns are not the cause of IPV.

We know power and control and the choice of some to use violence are the underlying drivers of IPV – however, for the purposes of this HAVEN newsletter, let’s focus on a few suggestions we can offer to support those who may be in abusive relationships, especially as students and staff return from the holiday season.

As a number of advocates will remind us, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline website:  “Leaving an abusive relationship is a highly personal, individual decision, but all survivors benefit from having trusted people during this time.”  Sharing with a person impacted by violence that you are there to provide support and showing empathy, as Brene Brown reminds us in the video we watched during the HAVEN training, builds connection and may help to break the isolation or other feelings the impacted person may be experiencing.

Letting another know you hear them; you are there for support – and providing resources to confidential support and private reporting options may help someone as they consider their options.

Remember, you too have support. In the Chapel Hill area, a person can call the Compass Center and the Orange County Rape Crisis Center for support. These community based agencies are, of course, available to the Chapel Hill community year round. And, when necessary, call 911.

Through the campus, the Gender Violence Services Coordinators are available to any Carolina community member. Counseling and Psychological Services (for students) can be reached (24/7) at: 919-966-3658 – and the Employee Assistance Program (for UNC employees) can be reached (24/7) at: 877-314-5841.

And, of course, the Equal Opportunity and Compliance Office (EOC) is available to offer support and reporting options (; Phone: 919.966.3576; Email:

We hope you had a restful and safe Winter Break!

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