Holidays take violent toll

SMU Psychology Professor Kevin Lambert talks about increased stress and violence during the holidays.

The Dallas Morning News

The young woman's face was red and swollen when officers arrived at her Lake Highlands apartment. Clumps of her hair lay on the kitchen floor.

It was the Friday after Thanksgiving. Officers took the woman's boyfriend to jail, noting in a report what she said sparked the beating – an argument over pie.

When the holiday season comes around, police, counselors and women's shelters gear up for some of the busiest days of the year. Inevitably, they say, as family togetherness peaks, so does family violence.

Advocates for battered women say the holidays could be particularly bad this year, as more and more people lose jobs and homes in a teetering economy. . .

Of course, many families can disagree without coming to blows. For those who are dreading even the arguments, one counselor has this advice: Try to understand, as opposed to working so hard to be understood.

"I think a lot of times in families, people start to talk over each other and really fight to be the top dog," said Kevin Lambert, a psychologist and counselor at Southern Methodist University.

"It's really important to try to listen to understand, first and foremost, and make that your priority," Dr. Lambert said. "And then make a judgment as to whether it's worth it to push forward your point. Who knows? They may be saying the same thing, just in a different way."

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