A. Holiday stress, economic stress, any kind of stress, is fairly inconsistently related to domestic violence. Probably the reason for that is there's a lot of other factors that go into creating a batterer that are more important than situational stress. For susceptible men, it's the situational stress that sets them off or escalates the violence. So, typically, relationship violence during the holidays does not come out of the blue.

Q. Generally speaking, what are some signs people can look for during the holidays to see that something is about to happen?

A. There's general relationship patterns that they should be aware of that are troublesome. Partners who are very controlling and who are very jealous — that's something to pay attention to [though it] doesn't necessarily mean it's going to escalate into violence. ...

In addition to that, if someone seems to be having more intense and more frequent episodes of impulsive anger, outbursts of anger. Particularly outbursts of anger that involve some kind of violence, even if it's not violence against a person, but throwing objects, things like that. …

Actual past acts of violence predict future acts of violence.

Q. Do women notice the warning signs?

A. Re-victimization is a major problem. Women who are in domestically violent relationships are much more prone to get into new relationships that become violent and we don't know exactly why. There are a few theoretical reasons. One is that, because of past trauma, women have trouble seeing the warning signs. Another is that their models for relationships are violent.

Q. What else should domestic violence victims know?

A. It's really important for women to understand that there are systems set up to help them. People who man domestic violence hot lines are incredibly knowledgeable, and you can call long before you're thinking of leaving. I think a lot of women think you can only call one of these hot lines when you're ready to leave and that's not the case at all.

•Contact Connecticut's statewide domestic violence hot line at 888-774-2900 for immediate help. For more of the Q&A, visit courant.com/batteredlives.

estimated family violence incidents in Connecticut year-to-date, based on 2007 data.