Christmas may be a time for family, but sadly it is a peak period for police being called to family violence incidents.
In the past financial year, December and January recorded the highest call outs for family violence – 6614 and 6474 respectively state-wide.
That is over a thousand cases more than the lowest months in August, at 5343.
But even within this heightened period for domestic violence, our region saw a significant jump last year, bringing it to the highest in five years.
There were a total of 193 family violence call outs between December 14 and January 3 in the Greater Bendigo, Campaspe, Central Goldfields, Loddon, Macedon Ranges and Mount Alexander areas last year.
That compares to 174 the previous year and 115 in 2010/11.
Bendigo Police Inspector Mick Talbot said while the force invariably expects the annual holiday spike in distress calls, the raw numbers and statistics didn’t tell the full story.
“One is too many, but we know they're going to happen, so we just hope they are not so serious,” Inspector Talbot said.
He said Christmas and New Year can inflame family tensions, while people tend to drink higher amounts of alcohol which can exacerbate the severity or frequency of the violence.
He said it was especially troubling when one family member victimised their loved one in front of children.
“If they witness violence at Christmas … their memory is of that violence, not of enjoyment, and that’s unfortunate,” he said.
“This time of year is supposed to be happy and a time to celebrate, so it upsets them more.”
Inspector Talbot urged people who felt they needed to use their fists to solve a family argument to put their hands in their pockets and distance themselves from violence.
“We have zero tolerance for family violence,” he said.
“I don't care oif it’s Christmas day, (perpetrators) will be arrested and locked up like any other day.”