The Christmas season is one of the only times each year when scattered family members tend to travel near and far to gather under one roof. During the pandemic, holiday celebrations will definitely be different, but there are still many opportunities to make memories and be with the ones you love, even if it is virtually.
While many think the chaotic-ness of holiday family time is one of the most treasured parts of the season; for others, this time of year holds less than pleasant memories. We ask each of you to take time to consider the people in your lives who might be struggling right now and encourage you to reach out to them to check-in. It could make a difference, especially for someone who is in an abusive home.
For victims of domestic abuse, the holidays can pose a painful mental battle of whether to go to the family gathering or stay behind to avoid reliving such traumatic memories. The holidays can be the source of pain, loss, abandonment, and grief, especially for victims of abuse who fear seeing their abuser at a celebration or facing the possibility of being abused by a loved one with toxic tendencies. If you fall into these categories, please know that you are not facing this battle alone. Your feelings and need for space and healing are valid regardless of if your abuser is blood-related or not. Some survivors are thankful they can use COVID-19 as an excuse to stay away from unsafe family gatherings.
Often, we can buy into the belief that just because we are tied to someone in a family bond means we have to stay in their life forever and continually keep up the relationship no matter how much they hurt us. While family can be an ever-lasting bond, it doesn’t have to be, and if someone has been abusive to you, then you have every right to distance yourself from them or cut them out of your life completely. They have the choice of whether they will make amends for the harm they caused and whether they are willing to change.
We know that navigating family affairs is not always this simple. For the victim deciding whether or not to see their abusive family over the holidays, their inner monologue may look something like this:
“Am I being too sensitive?”
“I’ve never told my family…what if they think my absence is neglectful toward the other family members I love?”
“What if they are different this time?”
“I am an adult now; I should be over what they did to me when I was a child.”
“It’s just one night; I can do it.”
If these questions resonate with your situation, use these next checkpoints as a measure to honor your boundaries while still allowing yourself to enjoy the holidays in a safe and comfortable way.
If the feelings of this holiday season weigh extra heavy, please know that we are extending all the compassion and love to you this year. You should be so proud of yourself for making it this far and walking through decisions many people do not have the strength to navigate. We wish you Happy Holidays and are sending strength, love, and grace to you this season.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 5:13).