It’s that time of year again, holiday time! The time that most people get together with their families, whether they like them or not. This time of year is hard for many people, but it’s especially hard for people who have survived abuse by trusted members of their family, yet feel compelled to show up with a smile, during the holidays. So if this sounds like something you’re anxious about doing again this year, stay tuned for 3 tips to help you survive the holidays with your abuser.
Holiday Anxiety or Holiday Blues Is Real!
You’re feeling anxious about going home this holiday season and being confronted with your past abuser. Ever since you were little you have always felt like the “good girl”. You have never given your parents and problems and you don’t want to now (“by causing problems”). Your biggest concern is acting like everything is ok. During the holidays your family gets together and this means that you will be confronted with your abuser. You don’t want to see them or even be around them, but you feel like you have to be. If you do not show up, your parents will wonder why. If you tell them why you fear the pain you will cause them. So instead you plan to attend and suffer in silence, just like when you were a child surviving the sexual abuse.
As an aside there is the option to talk with your parents about what makes you uncomfortable. Yes, it will be painful but you will also feel a sense of relief not carrying the burden alone. With the support of your parents you can avoid the holidays with your abuser, either they get disinvited or your family does something separately, creating a new tradition.
But if you’re not ready for the above step and instead you plan to join with your whole family during the holidays, here are 3 tips you can use to survive the holidays with your abuser.
3 Tips to Cope and Survive The Holidays With Your abuser
Tip #1: Prepare in advance. It’s going to be tough to be around your abuser. You will feel highly anxious and you might find yourself reverting back to that scared child that was harmed. In order to get ready for the holidays and encounters by your abuser, you should make a contingency plan. Practice taking breaks when you begin to feel overwhelmed. This might mean excusing yourself and going to the bathroom or outside for about 10 minutes. During this time using calming activities to self soothe such as deep breathing, meditation, or even going for a walk.
Tip #2: Hold to Your boundaries. This means if you don’t want physical contact with the person practice saying “no” and don’t engage. That mans saying no thank you if they go in for a hug or maybe even announcing that you will be hugging the person. Limit any one on one activities. If you are in a room with your abuser and other people, and those other people start to leave, follow them out. Make up and excuse if you have to but being alone with your abuser can be very triggering. So to protect yourself and don’t be alone with them.
Tip #3: Remember to engage in self care. Self care is not about mani-pedi’s or taking hot baths, but it’s about attuning to your own needs. More important it’s taking care of yourself and showing love for yourself. Self care is something different for everyone, so it’s important that you figure out what self care is for you. This means use grounding techniques to manage trauma reactions as opposed to overeating or overindulging in alcohol. Remind yourself of all your good qualities and how far you have come and if things become overwhelming it’s ok to leave early. Remember self care is about taking care of yourself so in this case you need to put yourself above your toxic family member(s).
Experiencing sexual abuse is incredibly painful and the impacts can be long lasting. One of the hardest parts of healing is still having to cope with your family members. This can be an even bigger challenge if you never spoke about your abuse and thus you are routinely in situations with your abuser whenever the family gets together. Your best success for healing and recovery is to eliminate contact or at least not feel like you are being forced to be around them. But if this is not an option because your family doesn’t know about the abuse then the 3 tips above can b used to help you cope.
Are you stuck in life and feeling like you have no other options? Do you feel like you’ve tried everything all ready but you’re still feeling unhappy, unsatisfied and angry? Let’s explore what’s keeping you stuck in life and create a plan to help you move forward. Schedule your first session today.
These are just a few strategies and tips and recommendations! I hope you found this post helpful! I’d love to hear from you in the comment section!
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Until we connect again,
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