Holidays Might Not Be the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

The holiday season can be a time to create lasting memories, but for some, those memories are connected to violence and abuse.

By Ashley Dunn, President & CEO

As we move further into the holiday season, we want to take a moment to remind our community to prioritize your mental, emotional, and physical health.

At The Center for Empowerment and Education (CEE), we are familiar with the trauma triggers that can arise when a person returns to a home where prior domestic and/or sexual abuse occurred. You might be attending a gathering and forced to see a family member or individual that has harmed you, potentially increasing the chance of repeated abuse or enduring the triggers of your past.

For your well-being, you don't need to attend every event you are invited to attend. However, we know that not everyone can set that boundary, or isn't ready to decline the invitation. If you are forced to return to where abuse occurred, you can try a few recommendations from RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), including trying to avoid being in the location where the abuse occurred, planning to stay with friends/family of the non-offending family member or staying at an offsite location like a hotel and keeping the location private from your abuser, or finding activities that could get you out of the house for extended periods of time. Finally, reach out to CEE and safety plan. Having a plan and working through logistics can help you feel more comfortable and prepared to return home. 

In addition to the trauma triggers of going back home to an abuser, we know that victims of domestic violence continue to experience violence. There may be increased holiday stressors surrounding finances, traveling, seeing family and friends, and hosting holiday festivities. Holidays can be a time when abusers set unrealistic expectations to create the "perfect" holiday experience. Holiday festivities often include drinking and/or drug use that can increase violent behavior. 

Do you have a loved one that you think might be in need of help? There are several things to watch for if you suspect abuse: injuries or bruising, tension or nervousness around their partner and/or frequent texts or calls from their partner if they aren't present, and an urgency to respond quickly. If you know someone you think might be in an abusive situation, listen and believe what they say. It took courage for them to speak up. Reach out to them but ask about the best way and time to communicate. Provide resources that can help, like CEE.

At CEE, we believe in supporting and empowering victims to make the right choice for them at that moment. 

If you are in an abusive and violent relationship, you can connect to an advocate that can safety plan and offer resources. In addition, practice self-care. Self-care is not a selfish act; it is vital to your well-being. 

If you or someone you know needs support, our no-cost confidential hotlines are available 24/7.

Domestic Violence Hotline (203)731-5206

Sexual Assault Hotline (203)731-5204