Chilliwack Progress

Guide to gliding through the holidays

Christmastime can be a heightened and stressful time for some families.

Local RCMP and the City of Chilliwack's public safety committee are putting out the message this season that there are resources to help in Chilliwack.

Here's a handy guide on what to do to avoid triggers and stressors that can lead to domestic violence.

RCMP doesn't keep seasonal statistics, but they know that the incidents of family violence do increase over the holidays.

"The emotional and financial stressors come to the forefront when alcohol is introduced into the situation at this time of year," said RCMP Cpl. Len van Nieuwenhuizen.

Sometimes in the heat of the moment, people forget about that expectations about the season can be wildly unrealistic. Plus alcohol acts as a disinhibitor, causing people to do things they would not otherwise do.

The most important tip is recognizing when a situation is becoming unsafe and to seek support immediately.

When police arrive on-scene there are several avenues they can take, including a Keep the Peace file whereby one party is asked to leave and take a time out to think about the situation.

"Family disputes are by far the most volatile and unpredictable situations we encounter as police officers," said Cpl. Harinder Kheleh of the Chilliwack Serious Crime Unit. "We take them very seriously and make sure that the people involved have the support they need to move forward."

Here are some coping strategies that can be used to eliminate the possibility of domestic violence:

• Discussions family finances long before the season and stick to the family budget

• Limit alcohol as increased alcohol consumption can lead to arguments that may not have happened otherwise;

• Discuss how your time during the holidays is going to be spent and with whom, and

• Always be aware of where the children are during these discussions.

"It's important to realize that this time of year is special for the moments, not for the material things," said Cpl. van Nieuwenhuizen. "That's what is valued most by families and children."

There are two transition houses in Chilliwack for those fleeing family violence: Ann Davis at 604-792-3116 and Xolhemet at 604-858-0468.

In Hope it's the Hope and Area Transition Society at 604-869-5111.

For family counselling support, contact Ann Davis Transition Society at 604-792-2760 or Chilliwack Community Services at 604-792-4267. If there is any violence or threats of violence made, please contact your local RCMP or call 911.

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