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Sunday August 30th, 2015 4:00AM

Domestic violence does not take a holiday

By B.J. Williams News Director
GAINESVILLE - Domestic violence does not take a break during the holiday season, according to the Executive Director of Gainesville's Gateway Domestic Violence Center.

Jessica Butler said there are extra stressors around the holidays that make a volatile home life even worse.

"There are extra expenses that add stress to the family and the families are spending more time at home together," said Butler.

Even with that reality, Butler said most women in abusive situations avoid calling for help during the Christmas season.

"What we hear from women after the holidays when they do call us for help is that they were trying to make it work or, you know, trying to create...a normal for their family holiday, hoping to make it peaceful over the holiday season," said Butler.

Butler said while law enforcement reports an increase in domestic violence calls to 911 during the holidays, the call volume is actually down a bit at Gateway, as women try to make it through the holiday. Still, a volunteer will be on duty all day Christmas Day.

"Gateway has someone here 24 hours a day, seven days a week," said Butler. "Even on Christmas Day, we'll have someone here to answer the phone. What we want people to know is we're always here when they're ready to start talking about their options for ending an abusive relationship."

Butler said so far this year, Gateway has served 1,000 women and children in Hall County. About 200 actually live in Gateway's shelter or transitional housing, while the other 800 go to Gateway for legal assistance or support groups or other services.

NOTE: Gateway's crisis hot line number is 1-800-33-HAVEN or 770-536-5860.
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