The holiday season is upon us in full force. Thanksgiving provided everyone with the opportunity to share with the people that they are grateful for in their lives. Now, the malls and stores are crowded with excited shoppers buying decorations and presents for their families, friends, and other loved ones. It is the most wonderful time of the year for some people.
For survivors of sexual trauma, the holidays can be a challenging time especially if the perpetrator of the abuse or assaults is in their family. Even if the pepetrator is not currently a part of the holiday celebration, there are often many unexpressed feelings and challenges around gathering together as a family. There might be some family members that support the survivor (s) of the abuse and others that choose to ignore that anything happened. There can be strong divisions around sexual abuse in families that make gathering together more like a war zone than a peaceful and fun time. Also, there are families where the abuse is not acknowledged or spoken about at all. This can be incredibly painful for survivors to be ignored or told to keep secrets. Due to all of the stress that the holidays can cause, it is important for everyone to remember to take care of themselves.
Some ways that survivors can take care of themselves during the holidays are:
Choose the level of involvement that you want to have with your family and set boundaries
Surround yourself with friends and family members that are supportive
Take breaks from family and take time to relax
Be aware of your triggers and what coping techniques are helpful to you during difficult times