The holiday season is a time of celebration and a chance to reconnect with family and friends, but it can be challenging for some survivors of sexual violence. For some survivors, holiday gatherings may contribute to feelings of anxiety and overwhelm and can bring painful memories to the surface.
Statistics show that a significant majority of survivors, around 93%, have a personal connection with the perpetrator, such as an acquaintance or a family member. This unfortunate reality can make it challenging for survivors to enjoy the holidays, as the perpetrator may be present during family gatherings and celebrations. Nonetheless, there are various ways in which you can assist survivors in feeling secure, supported, and comfortable during this festive season. Here are some helpful tips on supporting survivors during the holidays.
If you or any survivor finds themselves in crisis, they can call our 24/7 hotline (757-236-5260) to receive support.
Show Your Support: 7 ways to support your loved ones during the holidays
Listen to What They Need.
It is important to remember that each survivor may be facing their own unique challenges. Instead of offering advice, it is best to assume that survivors know what is best for themselves. Show respect for their needs and provide support when they ask for it. During the holidays, survivors may experience added stress and overwhelming emotions. Be mindful of their needs and ask how you can be of support during this time.
Create a Safe Space.
For some survivors, it can trigger painful memories and emotions through certain situations, sounds, smells, or other sensory experiences. For others, there may be a feeling of a lack of control due to difficulties feeling safe in large gatherings or environments. Create a safe space for the survivor and ask how to make the environment feel safe and comfortable.
Respect Their Boundaries.
It's important to recognize that certain situations, sounds, smells, or other sensory experiences can trigger painful memories and emotions for some survivors. Additionally, some survivors may struggle with feeling safe in large gatherings or crowded environments, which can lead to a feeling of a lack of control. To support survivors, it's important to create a safe space and ask how you can help make an environment feel safe and comfortable for them.
Walk and Talk.
It is important for survivors of trauma to have connections with safe and supportive people in their lives. Consider a time to take a walk if you notice the survivor getting overwhelmed by festivities or family member interactions. It may take time for survivors start to gain trust with you. So, this a great way to connect with a survivor in your life as they navigate through what could be a difficult holiday season.
By gaining more understanding about trauma, you can enhance your ability to provide the best possible support to those who have experienced it.
Be a Safe Person.
During the holidays, it's important to be there for your loved ones. Pay attention to their nonverbal cues in group settings and offer support by suggesting a private conversation or shifting the topic to something more cheerful.
When supporting someone, it's important to show them that you're available to listen and understand their needs. This holiday season, be there for your loved ones by offering a helping hand and being a good listener
Throughout this holiday season remember you are not alone. You can always call The Center's 24/7 Hotline for support at 757-236-5260.