RICHMOND (WRIC) - Domestic violence experts know tensions tend to boil over this time of year.
In Goochland, sadness broke into the happiest time of the year. The Sheriff's department says Michael Fuller threatened his wife and kids before taking his own life.
On Thanksgiving Day, Chesterfield County police say officers had to shoot another man on Oakside Drive after a domestic dispute.
"These aren't things that happen out of the blue," said Safe Harbor Spokesperson Angela Verdery. "These are patterns that have already been established within that relationship."
Verdery says the holidays bring on a lot of extra stress. Kids are home from school, Christmas gifts are expensive and you're with your family a lot. Abusers can feel they've lost the control they crave.
"These expectations: you need to go here. You need to do this. These are the things that you're supposed to do. That's really hard for someone who wants to be in control," Verdery said.
Verdery cautions that safety is paramount - even if it means an abuse-free Christmas means breaking Christmas tradition.
"What's the best decision for me? What's going to keep me safest? What's going to keep my family safest? What makes the most sense? That really looks different for every person we talk to."
If you can't manage the situation on your own, get help.
Safe Harbor has people working 24 hours a day 7 days a week - even holidays.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond