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Local Counselors Say Domestic Violence Rises After Holidays, Not During

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Myths are perpetuated because people keep repeating them. One of those myths is that more men abuse women during the holidays due to stress than any other time of year.

But counselors dispute that, saying there actually is a slight lull in domestic violence throughout the holiday season.

One of a child's earliest lessons is "hands are not for hitting." It is a lesson a lot of adults still do not get.

"You hear the infamous: 'If you leave me, I'll kill you,'" Tanisha Bagley said, "and I truly believed that even in high school."

Bagley said her ex-husband abused her for nine years. He went to prison for kidnapping and raping her.

"I've been beaten with empty beer bottles," she said. "I've had a fractured nose, black eyes, busted lips. I've had all that stuff."

Knowing the holidays are full of stress, Bagley said she did all she could to minimize that pressure.

"You're avoiding arguments," she said. "You're being quiet. You're doing everything he wants you to do. You're a robot."

According to counselors at

Interact of Raleigh,

abusers often keep it together through the holidays, but calls for help increase dramatically after the decorations come down.

"We don't see an increase in the number of clients we serve over the holidays," domestic violence counselor Gwen Scott said. "What we do find is there's an increase in the number of people we serve after the holidays. Everything is over. Whatever they've been keeping in can explode at that time."

Interact saw a sharp increase in domestic violence just after the 2002 holiday season. Last December, the agency served 481 clients. This January, it served 563 -- a 17-percent increase.

Bagley said there is a truly bright star hanging over her Christmas celebration.

"It's a good thing, knowing that you're not going to be abused and be able to spend Christmas and be happy."

With a full heart again, Bagley said she hopes other women will see the light of hope.

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