Abuse and the holidays

Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the hardest things to do. The victim of an abusive relationship has to rebuild their entire life. Abuse is about power and control. When someone else controls every aspect of another person’s life, they have to learn to live again without that other person. It has been described as a fog lifting and half the things remembered before the fog are gone. It is scary and unfamiliar. This is hard at all times, but it seems hardest at the holidays.
Christmas can be a difficult time for many. While people are making plans, wrapping presents, and looking forward to parties, others are just trying to survive. Maybe it is their first Christmas after losing a loved one, or they cannot afford to be home for the holidays. For a lot of victims this is a hard time of year. Whether they have just got out of an abusive relationship or have been working at rebuilding their new normal for a while, it can bring up a lot of feelings and memories.
The hardest part of rebuilding a life is letting go of the past. Sometimes this means letting go of the family you thought you would have. It means that the expectations of the other person becoming who you want them to be have to be put aside. Facing the fact that the person you love and want to be with is abusive is difficult to process at any time. Going into the holiday season alone can be scary, but it is important to remember than no one deserves to be abused.
If you find yourself having to start over during the holidays, there are some important things to remember. First, we all need to remember that everything that we are feeling in that moment is temporary. Second, everyone can start a new tradition when the old ones are too painful. Third, the first time you do something is always the hardest. Finally, let yourself be sad if you need to be sad. Being sad does not mean that you will be sad forever. It may feel bad at first, but it will pass. Going back to an abusive relationship will only keep you sad and hurting.
Recently, I heard from a victim that was concerned about leaving an abuser this close to Christmas. They were worried about ruining their children’s Christmas. This was a potentially dangerous situation, and I found myself explaining that no amount of presents could compare if they did not have their mother at Christmas. It put things in a new perspective. No present under the tree is comparable to being present with your children. Staying in an abusive situation for your children is not helping them. In fact, most children raised in domestic violence go on to be in violent relationships themselves.
If you find yourself struggling to start over after an abusive relationship, please contact Crisis Services of North Alabama. We have advocates that can help make this time of transition easier. Crisis Services provides free, confidential advocacy to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We can be reached locally at (256)574-5826 or at our 24 hour HELPline at (256)716-1000. Please do not go through this process alone.

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