Last month, New Yorkers experienced one of the coldest, most dangerous blasts of polar air the region has seen in decades. With these frigid temperatures, more people are staying indoors, relying on the furnace to keep them warm until spring.
While there are no national statistics on a direct correlation between domestic violence and the weather, the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) has reported a raise in calls reporting sexual assault in December and January.
Many domestic violence help lines expect to see a continuing rise in calls as severe cold weather keeps families confined at home for extended periods of time.
Police have described the building tensions as “cabin fever,” a term used as far back as 1998 as an explanation for why they receive so many domestic calls from families who are “cooped up” and finally reaching a boiling point.
While officers may attribute heightened tension and domestic violence to cabin fever, David Finkelhor, director of the Crimes against Children Research Center at the University of New Hampshire, feels that weather may only be a minor precipitant for violence.
He feels that other factors, such as unemployment and economic downturn, generate much larger social stress.
As a family law attorney in Brooklyn, New York, I want to help make all families aware of the heightened risk of domestic violence throughout the remainder of winter. If you feel you are at risk for domestic abuse or have already become a victim, consult The New York County District Attorney’s Office on the Resources for Victims of Domestic Violence page, and contact an experienced family law attorney.