Holiday’s can be a particularly tough time for survivors of interpersonal violence and abuse.  Many things about holidays and more time with families can be stressful.  Reunions can be reminders of life before the assault.  It can also be a time that survivors have to be around family members that abuse.   It can be difficult for a survivor  to express feelings and talk about their lives if family members aren’t aware of the assault.

According to Dr. Glenn Schiraldi the following six steps can return a survivors’ relationships to being their safety net.

  1. Number one is to accept one’s fears.  This could mean a survivor no longer denying fears about their family members finding out about the assault; not necessarily telling them, but acknowledging the fear of their knowing.
  2. The next step is to replace those ideas that block close relationships.  This could be the thoughts such as “they don’t know the real ‘me’ anymore.”  Survivors should actively reassure themselves that their families love them regardless and know who they really are, even if family doesn’t know everything the survivor has been through.
  3. The third step is to retrain oneself on communication skills if they have been damaged; this could mean standing up for one’s self or expressing affection.
  4. The fourth step is to gradually practice trusting others again.  An example for this would be to allow a person into your world for a bit; maybe share something personal and a point of pride with a close or favorite relative.
  5. Next; step back and notice how family and friends handle conflicts and stress.
  6. Lastly, consider picking up where things were left before the trauma.  Take this moment to ponder how the relationships truly were before and where they could be.  Survivors can envision how their close, intimate relationships should look like and begin working towards that goal.

Holidays bring enough stress, but compounding it with the stress that trauma can bring may seem overwhelming.  However, they can also be a wonderful opportunity to show us again who matters in life and a strong sense of new opportunities in the new year.