Why It Happens, and How You Can Help
As the summer months continue, experts warn of an uptick in domestic violence cases. Why does such violence increase during this warmer season? More importantly, what can your social service organization do to help?
Domestic Violence in the Summer
For many people, summer is their favorite time of year. It is not hard to see why; the warm weather ushers in opportunities for outdoor recreation, backyard barbecues, and holiday fireworks.
Unfortunately, summer also means an uptick in domestic violence cases.
“When the weather gets warmer, we have an increase in [domestic violence] clients and an increase of higher lethality situations,” says Brittany Rees of the Spouse Abuse, Sexual Assault Clinic in Hastings, Nebraska.
Statistically, each of us know at least one person who has experienced domestic violence. According to UN Women, one in three women—and one in four men—will experience physical or sexual abuse in their lifetime. How can we better help and support these individuals during the summer months?
Why The Uptick?
First, we need to understand what is behind the increase of domestic violence during the summer.
Experts agree that one of the biggest factors contributing to summer violence is the heat. High temperatures add to irritability and can create additional stressors, such as power outages or malfunctioning vehicles. With much of the US experiencing record heat waves this year, social workers are wary of even more exasperation from the heat.
Hot temperatures are not the only variable, however. Summertime is full of events and activities that center around alcohol. Graduations, holidays, weddings, picnics, and barbecues usher in higher consumptions of alcohol. This in turn lowers inhibitions, clouds judgement, and can act as a catalyst for abusive behavior.
Children are also often affected by domestic violence during the summer. With most children out of school during these months, over-burdened parents may become frustrated by under-stimulated kids. This can lead to increased aggravation at other adults, or even the children themselves.
Many teens also report an increase in intimate partner violence during the summer. With school out of session, teenagers tend to spend more time with their significant others. For those in romantic relationships with abusive partners, they are likewise more at risk of violence during the summer holiday.
What Your Organization Can Do To Help
Clearly, a myriad of factors adds to the increase in domestic violence during the summer. Most of these variables are outside the control of health and human service organizations. So, what can your program do to help those experiencing summer violence?
Check out these tips below from domestic violence experts.
- Add Domestic Violence Screening
Regardless of what service you provide, your program can (and should) be screening for domestic violence. By simply asking a few questions during intake about domestic violence, you can help identify and stop DV cases.
- Offer Programs for Youth
If possible, create programs and activities for children and teens to attend. Doing so allows some relief for parents at home while also providing a safe space for youth. This also creates an opportunity to screen young adults for possible signs of domestic or intimate partner violence.
- Provide Supplies to Combat the Heat
As stated above, the rising temperatures often correlate with domestic violence cases. Consider providing supplies and resources to help mitigate the heat. For example, frozen water bottles, cooling fans, or even access to air-conditioned resting spaces are all tools that can help individuals and families with the heat.
- Improve Internet Access
Many people who experience domestic violence do not have regular internet access—preventing them from seeking help, maintaining social relationships, or engaging in telehealth. Providing internet access is a great way to support these individuals who need this resource.
- Focus on Social Determinants of Health
Experts agree that social determinants of health directly correlate with a plethora of social service needs. By incorporating social determinants into your data analysis and program planning, you can more directly help those who may be affected by domestic violence.
- Partner With Local DV Shelters
The better you get to know your community, the better you can help those experiencing domestic violence. Make sure you know your local domestic violence shelter and reach out to see if there are ways you can partner with them. Community Care Coordination is at the core of successful social service.
Pushing Against The Trend
While research shows that domestic violence increases during the summer, it does not have to remain this way. As health and human service organizations work together, we can help end the prevalence of domestic abuse.
As we continue to craft responses that better represent the needs of each community, we can more effectively improve the lives of those experiencing violence. Case management systems, like Eccovia’s ClientTrack™, provide the tools organizations need to identify social determinants of health, manage those they serve, and craft more effective initiatives.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, know that there is help. Please refer to the resources below for where to start:
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: (Call 800-799-7233)
- Crisis Text Line: (Text HOME to 741741)
- National Parent Hotline: (Call 1-855-427-2736)
- Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: (visit https://www.childhelp.org/childhelp-hotline/ or call 1-800-422-4453)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: (visit http://thehotline.org, text LOVEIS to 22522, or call 1-800-799-7233)
- Futures Without Violence: (visit https://www.futureswithoutviolence.org/resources-events/get-help/)
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