For those Wisconsin residents who have restraining orders in place against them, it is important to know that the holidays can be a tempting time to violate those orders. But however well-meaning you may be in wanting to reach out to those outlined in a protective order, you need to refrain from doing so for several reasons.

First, violation of a protective order could lead to serious consequences. Depending on what your criminal record looks like, you could end up incarcerated. In addition, the holidays tend to be a time during which escalated rates of domestic violence are reported. Again, though you may be well-meaning in reaching out, the stress of the holidays could either trigger unintentionally violent behavior or could lead vulnerable persons to accuse you of this behavior, even if you did not commit any.

It is no secret that the stress of family gatherings and family politics can heighten tensions between friends and loved ones at this time of year. Even though everyone would ideally enjoy the holidays without stress and arguments, most families experience some level of tension at this time of year. Depending on the circumstances, this tension can inspire either abusive behavior or reports that abusive behavior has occurred, even if it has not.

If you are bound by a restraining order, please honor it this holiday season. Failure to do so could lead you to spend 2013 in jail, and chances are good that there are many, many other ways that you would prefer to spend the new year.

Source: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “Holiday stress can contribute to domestic violence,” Kelsey Bray, Dec. 16, 2012