‘Tis the season to be jolly? The holiday season is regarded as a time for joy and merriment, closeness with our family and friends, and an opportunity to make happy memories that last a lifetime. However, for many of us, holidays bring forward a mix of complicated emotions that even those living in generally happy and healthy environments find themselves struggling with. While many who encounter abuse regularly or have in the past, dread the coming of this “joyful” time.
The chaotic environment that a victim of abuse must contend with, does not allow them to experience the easy, wholesome warmth that the majority of the population look forward to all year. Instead, they have a variety of different issues to be worrying about. Perhaps the abuser will drink themselves into a fit of rage and lash out at them. Perhaps the abuser will embarrass them in front of their guests. Perhaps the abuser will act like all is well only to hold all of their “mistakes” against them when everyone is gone. Will the pressure of planning for it all create an excuse for the abuser to do something harmful? Will there be peace? Will they be safe? What sort of mess could happen during this time? The abused will think of it ALL. They have to. They know they must be ready; they must brace themselves inside for what may come. Any genuine care that may come their way may be lessened by the anxiety they feel about their uncertain situation.
The victim can react in many different ways, often they pretend that all is well and make excuses for any inappropriate behavior, though they may also completely shut themselves away somewhere and avoid the possibility of opening up only to be hurt once again. What hurts the most is seeing everyone around the world celebrating with their loved ones while they feel invisible to theirs. It is never more apparent how hurtful their situation is as when the holidays come around.
Those who have been abused in the past will feel a sharp sting during this time, as even though they are no longer in the negative environment, their memories of holidays spent with loved ones will always include the underlying abuse they suffered at the time. They want to create new memories, and best that they do, but it is not an easy task when there is nothing there to pull from. Sometimes it is easiest for them to shut the world out during this time. Depression may hit extra hard during this time of year for those who have been through abuse, and even for those who simply find themselves alone and perhaps broken-hearted. Being alone can feel to many like the best solution, as they know they will feel even more alone if they were surrounded by happy people who have no idea what they are really going through on the inside.
However, locking themselves away will only prolong the sadness that they feel. It would be best if they could confide in a close friend or family member about their feelings and thoughts at this time. Someone who can really listen without judgement and allow them to feel as though they truly exist as a person and are loved for who they are, despite the difficulties they are facing; someone that will accept their sadness and create joy with them anew. For those of you who have seen the film “Trolls”, think of the character Branch and how invisible he felt while everyone else was trying to throw joy at him. No one saw what was going on inside of him, instead they expected that he chime in and get “happy” with them. But Branch has real pain that he cannot simply dismiss because it is time to have a joyous event. No. He needed them to understand, to see him for who he really was on the inside. It is only then that he could be free to be himself and let love in.
The chaotic environment doesn't allow victims to experience the warmth that most people look forward to all year. Instead, they must brace themselves for what may come. #holidayabuse #domesticviolence https://t.co/0NefkYfli4 https://t.co/h21JNb4xY0— EndingTheAbuse (@endingtheabuse1) December 22, 2017
If you know someone who is going through or has gone through a difficult time, let them know “I see you”. Accept them for who they are and do not force them to behave in a way that better suits “the season”. Love them for them, scars and all. Be there. Even in silence if they need. Being there will help more than you realize.
For those of you who are victims yourselves, you are not alone. There are others in the world going through something similar who feel just as invisible during this time of the year. Feeling this way is understandable, but please know that you are a part of something bigger that may be difficult to see at this moment in time. Do what you can do. Take time to do something you truly love as a gift to yourself. Allow yourself that moment and let it be bigger than life. Focus on this. And if you are lucky enough to have even one person that loves and accepts you and sees you for who you are, then you already have the most valuable thing one can ask for. Breathe. This too will pass.
If the darkness inside gets to you during this season and you feel as though you have no way out, please do call for help. There are hotlines in your area that can be reached by doing a quick google search. For more information please take a look at our resource blog.
When in the midst of an abusive situation, it may be difficult to think clearly and come up with a solution to remedy the abuse, while trying to implement it may feel almost impossible. However, given the right tools and the will power to create change, it most certainly is possible, even more so– it is probable. Many may feel overwhelmed and may not know where to start, but it is important to start somewhere.
Please continue to check in with us each week for a new post about abusive behavior and how it can affect your life and the lives of those around you. There is always that first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!
Author Bio - Anna Czarska is a writer and actor who has 15+ years of experience dealing with various situations of abuse. She has pursued business ventures and creative pursuits as well as spending time to study psychology in both formal and personal education. For more information, you may find her Linkedin profile here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kasiakraut/