While some people are tying up Christmas presents, others are being tied to trees for days on end.
Eye sockets are being cracked instead of passing around Christmas crackers.
Family harm is rife in Rotorua and spikes in investigations during the holiday period show it's not the jolly season we like to think it is.
Now Women's Refuge and police are speaking out about it to raise awareness in the lead-up to Christmas.
Last December, Rotorua had the highest number of reported family harm investigations in 12 years, with 399 cases investigated. This was 156 more than the lowest month last year, which was 243 in February.
In 2017, December and June had 322 investigations and January had 330. One month before that, December 2016, had 339.
"The women and children who come into the refuge at that time have nothing," said Women's Refuge Waiariki manager Paula Coker.
She said family harm was complex and each incident was different which meant they knew the trends but, frustratingly, could not pinpoint a reason.
"At the end of the day, it comes down to their ability to cope and manage and if they can't then, like a volcano, they will erupt."
Although Christmas incidents were more frequent than other times of the year the degree of violence and trauma was consistent.
"We've had skulls smashed in, we've had women held hostage for days on end, we've had women tied up in the bush to trees, naked for days, locked in garages, knives held to their throats, guns pointed at their head, taken for long drives out to no-man's land. It's absolutely horrendous," she said.
She said among the vicious beatings and broken bones was psychological and emotional harm.
This could include crushing the victim's confidence or telling others the victim is going "crazy" which made reaching out for help difficult. Or criticising the victim as a person and calling them useless, she said.
Coker explained that behind closed doors family violence reflected what happened in society.
"It's a stressful time of the year for all families, whether healthy or dysfunctional," she said.
There was peer and external supervision for all staff but it was sometimes a matter of stepping away for a bit as it was difficult work.
She said it was about empowering women and children and to send a message that violence was not okay.
"That you have a right to be free of all kinds of violence."
She said the centre worked with crisis on a daily basis and said there was no formal preparation for the busy time because preparing for it was accepting this was a time it would always happen.
Bay of Plenty police youth, community and family harm district manager Inspector Phil Gillbanks said spending long periods of time with people, tensions, alcohol, stress and financial pressures raised the number of family-harm incidents during the holiday season.
Throughout the year, drugs, alcohol and mental health fuelled the degree of violence.
December's busiest family-harm investigation days were Sundays to Tuesdays and Fridays, and January's busiest days were over the weekend.
But despite the surge over the summer period, police resources remained the same. They also had staff who wanted to take leave and the need for police at summer concerts, in liquor-ban areas and city centres with an influx of visitors to the region.
Police needed to prioritise and encouraged people to notice when stress levels were rising and walk away from a situation before it got out of hand.
A Rotorua Salvation Army social worker, who spoke on condition they were not named, said about a week before Christmas until after New Year's Day was when a "definite surge occurs".
She said due to how long victims have been abused it was difficult for them to trust they would be safe if they reported anything.
"A lot of work and support has to happen prior to them feeling comfortable in reporting," she said.
Former Women's Refuge worker Merepeka Raukawa-Tait said many people got caught up in the party-side of Christmas and remembered the high demand for support services at this time of the year.
She said money could run out quickly and "party time and not just at the weekends" harmed all family members.
She said everyone had a responsibility to speak up if they saw someone being harmed.
"Don't hesitate to ring the police. This is not narking, it is attempting to break the cycle of family violence."
There were 13,219 family investigations carried out in the Bay of Plenty last year - nearly 1000 more than the previous year and about 483 more than in 2016.
Of these investigations, 2213 cases went to court, which is the highest number of family harm prosecutions of any region in the country - an average of six a day.
Family-harm offences, apprehensions and prosecutions are determined from police investigations or reports of family harm. Not all investigations lead to further action.
It has been three years and eight months since Ben Purua laid hands on his wife and he said the Christmas period always involved a lot of violence.
The violence went on for two years before the first time the police came to his door after a neighbour had called in.
"I knew I had a problem, I just didn't know what to do."
He was not working at the time and described a sense of shame and frustration which led to anger and violent outbursts, which only worsened around Christmas.
The last time he laid hands on his wife was the last time he had drugs or alcohol, he said.
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