The holidays can be extra painful for victims of domestic violence. All around you are images of happy people sitting by cozy fires opening gifts together, or gathered around a table laden with wonderful food. There are parties to attend where everyone is smiling and laughing (and consuming alcohol). Families arrive at church decked out in their Christmas best, their faces shining with joy. You may be present at these parties and church services, but you don’t feel like smiling or laughing. Yet, your abuser expects you to look joyous.
Because of the holidays you may now have many more “to dos” on your list. You must potentially:
Decorate your house
Write and send out a long list of Christmas cards
Buy presents for your abuser, your family, his* family, your children, friends
Bake cookies and pies, and cook an elaborate Christmas meal
Take care of children all day who are now on break from school
Be around your abuser more, who also might be on vacation
Go to parties, or host parties at your house
Have family members stay with you, or travel to see family (some of whom you intensely dislike).
All of the above items will stretch everyone’s (non-existent) patience, and the family’s sometimes very tight budget. In addition, you will feel you need to meet all his expectations, which you know from experience you can’t do.
Is there anything a victim can do to make things better? Can the victim’s family and friends help? The Pixel Project has identified 16 Safety Ideas and Tips for Women (or Men) facing Domestic Violence over the Holiday Season. Here is the link.
Many of the tips for victims have to do with creating an escape plan, and rallying the help of family and friends. Also, there is a tip about how to defuse an argument with the abuser.
For friends and family, there are tips about how to be on standby for the victim.
In addition to these, I would like to remind victims of their worth to the Lord. Christmas reminds us that the Creator of the universe left the beauty of heaven to come and join us in our pain and misery. He suffered just as we do. He came to us not with a display of his power, but as a vulnerable child. During his life he experienced all types of suffering. He was betrayed, forsaken, spat upon, beaten, and finally crucified.
Jesus showed his love for the downtrodden by:
Healing the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years, (Matthew 9:20-22)
Speaking words of life to the immoral woman at the well (who was usually ignored), (John 4:7-26)
Standing up for Mary and accepting her love, (John 12:3-8), and
Preventing the stoning of an adulteress, (John 8:3-11).
This same Jesus says to us in John 16:33:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
This does not mean that the suffering you are experiencing isn’t real. If you would like to explore the possibility of safely leaving your abuser, I invite you to read my book, A Journey through Emotional Abuse: from Bondage to Freedom, or read my blog about entitled “What Should You Do If You Think You Are Being Abused“.
I pray you will stay safe during this Holiday season, and that you will have a Merry Christmas and a Happier New Year.
God bless you!
*Abusers might be male or female. For ease of writing, in this blog, I portray the abuser as “he” and the victim as “she”. The same principles apply if the victim is “he” and the abuser is “she”, or they are the same gender.