Published: Dec 22, 2010 5:08 AM EST
Updated: Dec 22, 2010 1:21 AM EST

LEE COUNTY, Fla. - As we get closer to Christmas, local abuse shelters are filling up. And the stresses that can come with the season translate into a spike in domestic violence.

Some last-minute shoppers hum happy holiday tunes. But the season of peace and goodwill can also present a few extra stresses

"It's the time of the season you get the most bills, on top of all the Christmas presents and bills just keep piling up, piling up, piling up," Junita Armenta said.

In some families, anxiety over not enough money to buy gifts, job loss, and hosting guests, can be a recipe for disaster and abuse.

"Our shelters are completely packed during Christmas," Abuse Counseling and Treatment Community Educator Christine Kobie said. "Kids are waking up in the shelter on Christmas morning."

Kobie said around Thanksgiving and Christmas, call volume rises 25 to 75%.

"Our numbers have increased dramatically just from the way the economy is right now, and then add the holidays to it, and it's just a tough time right now," Kobie said.

Alcohol plays a big role. Kobie said everyone is responsible for watching and listening for signs of abuse, and the holiday season should never stop you from getting help.
"Santa does provide Christmas at our shelters," Kobie said. "We've had wonderful support from the community."

If you have been abused or know someone who has been, Kobie said you can report it anonymously to police or call their 24-hour hotline at 239-939-3112.