As the holiday season approaches, I want to encourage you all to check in on your friends and family who you know are survivors. Although we may appear to be alright, the holidays can be a very traumatic and triggering time.
From my experience, sexual abuse occurs far more by family members than it occurs by strangers. Whether the abuse has been acknowledged or not by the survivor, memories of family events and holidays can be very difficult. These times can be overwhelming and stressful for anyone, but for those of us also dealing with the trauma of past sexual abuse by a family member, these next few weeks can cause severe depression and anxiety. Survivors find it easy to isolate and hide away from others, slipping into the shadows of the busyness of the holiday season.
Unfortunately, I can’t give a prescription on what would work best because each person deals with this time of year differently. For myself, I appreciate it when people intentionally check in on me, while giving me grace and understanding if I’m unusually quiet or morose. I know that others need just a little more attention, especially if they are living by themselves. Invite them out to lunch or dinner, out to a movie, or some other event that they would enjoy. You can only know what to do if you have a relationship with that survivor.
Regardless of how we respond as survivors, knowing that we are loved and cared for by our friends and family members is extremely important. Please check in on us, even if we seem to be doing just fine.