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Merry Christmas... Or is it?

Christmas is here. I can barely believe that this year is over. It’s been a hellish one for me, not as a domestic abuse victim advocate  offering domestic violence advocacy training, but more on a personal level. Of course, there have also been some really great moments sprinkled in there - like all the programming that I now have happening through Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh.


While we’re looking back at the end of the year and everything that’s occurred we can’t forget how stressful this season is for a lot of people (e.g., pressure to impress others, work and school schedules changing, overspending). While there are many small reminders that now is the time to be holly jolly, some people are struggling and as a domestic violence advocate they still need my support. Their mixture of everyday and holiday stress can create some obstacles that many people may not even think about.


What other complications do domestic violence advocates see around Christmas time?


The Christmas spirit can actually throw many victims of domestic violence into survival mode. Typically they don’t want their friends and loved ones knowing about their situation because they’re ashamed of it. Throughout the year many domestic violence advocates, such as myself, watch victims spend a lot of energy trying to keep their situation hidden. But now they definitely don’t want to rock the sleigh before Santa Claus comes to town. So now they find themselves trying to be “Merry and Bright” while also being stressed about what others are thinking or seeing, and whether or not they’re going to be safe for another day. 


Christmas Vacation


Around the holidays most people have additional time off of work. While this is a blessing for most people, as a domestic abuse victim advocate I can assure you that this isn’t true for victims of domestic violence. Children who are usually safe at school throughout the daytime are also at home. With this additional time at home as a “family” domestic abuse victim advocates see an increase in the tension that leads to the perpetrator’s violent outbreaks.


Finances 


Most domestic violence advocates notice that financial stress is a daily issue for most people who are involved in domestic abuse cases. In fact, it’s one of the most common barriers that has to be addressed whenever someone is trying to escape their perpetrator. Many victims have very little, if any, access to their own money. So, can you imagine trying to save money to buy your children Christmas presents when you’re already fighting with your perpetrator on a daily basis just to get money for things like toiletries and groceries?


How do we ease the stress victims of domestic violence face at Christmas time?


As a domestic abuse victim advocate I encourage you to continue supporting victims of domestic violence the same way that you do throughout the rest of the year. Offer them a safe space to discuss what they’re going through. Help them think about ways in which they can get away from their abuser but remember they’re the expert in their life, not us. 


I here at Healing Family Trauma Pittsburgh want to wish you a Merry Christmas. And remember, a new domestic violence advocacy training course starts January 1. You can sign up now!

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