When holidays are not happy - Shulman Law Firm in Ontario
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When Happy Holidays Are Not So Happy

The holiday season is upon us and with it comes a lot of merriment, celebration and love; however, these same issues can be a tremendous source of anxiety, stress and even lead to outbursts or violence in the home. While domestic violence does not statistically increase during the holiday season, it doesn’t drop off or fail to exist either. This is because abuse is generally a habitual or patterned behaviour. Therefore it doesn’t generally just happen at set times. It is still a very real problem. During the holidays it can be very difficult to know what to do and worse it can feel very isolating and even difficult to report.

Holiday Stress

Leading into the season, many people add undue stress to themselves and their relationships by trying to achieve an unrealistic outcome or stretch themselves beyond their means. If you cannot afford the glitter and spending of the season – then don’t pretend you can. We all have financial limitations and scheduling issues that are out of our control. If you need assistance there are many food banks and resources that exist to help you and in many cases there are toys and gifts available as well. Ultimately setting realistic goals and staying within your financial means will go far to relieving stress and tension.


Once the season is in full swing, remember that while many of us enjoy a cup of cheer – we all need to know our limit a stay within it! Also, please be mindful of those you are visiting and be respectful of their wishes if they are concerned about Covid-19 or want to limit your time to visit or impose some limits on how a visit will go. Things like vaping, smoking marijuana, etc. are legal in Canada but there is no substitute for consideration towards others. Each of these things has a time and place and not everyone is appreciative of them. Know your environment and don’t impose on others. This will help to avoid conflict and hopefully allow for a comfortable atmosphere.

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Safety for the Holidays

In the event that things go poorly, your safety and the safety of those in your care is the priority ALWAYS. If and when possible, remove yourself and those in your care from the problem. Argument and escalation is not the way to go. Remain calm and talk to (not yell at) other parties. 

External resources like the police, local shelters, and various help lines remain open and available to help you even if your law firm or counselor(s) are not available. These resources should only be used in proportion to the problem at hand. You do not need to call 9-1-1 because your ex is 45 min late to pick up the kids. But of course if your ex hasn’t communicated in any way and is very late to bring the kids home – a call might be warranted. Ultimately, you know your situation better than anyone else and only you can determine the level of response needed.

Third Party Assistance

For most things, just remember that major issues might require a third party to assist. Although, most issues are temporary and might be okay to wait until your legal team is available again. With some consideration, flexibility and common sense many problems can be de-escalated or avoided. While it is our hope that your holiday season is a very safe and happy one, remember that you are under no obligation to take chances or offer opportunities for contact that aren’t part of the regular or court-mandated routine. Exercise caution, be respectful and don’t change the rules unnecessarily. Happy holidays!

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