The holiday season is considered by most to be a happy time filled with traditions, family and friends. There are holiday parties, family gatherings and generally an air of good cheer. However, this can be a really hard time for those in or trying to leave a domestic abuse situation. Partners that are trying to dominate and control the other make it difficult for that person to see or even talk to family and friends. You may be expecting to see your friend at a work Christmas party, but they won’t show because their significant other wouldn’t allow it. They will not tell you this is the reason for their absence. They’ll actually beg off saying they weren’t feeling well or had another commitment.
A friendly gift exchange meant to create happiness may cause more stress than you can imagine. Someone in an abusive relationship may not have control of a single dime of the money they earn because an abusive partner keeps control of the finances in order to control their partner.
Your friend, co-worker or family member may seem distracted if you do see them out. You see, it’s very stressful not knowing what you are going to come home to. You may be coming home to a tirade of accusations of cheating, or attempting to leave or doing something else behind their back. It may be a lot of screaming, or it could mean a beating. Then again maybe not…you just don’t know.
Victims of domestic abuse that have left their abusive partners may be tempted to go back. They are lonely, thinking about the good times, convinced that the person has changed or gone back to the way they used to be. They don’t want to be or feel alone during the holidays. They don’t want to be the one standing alone at midnight on New Years with no one to kiss. They may feel guilty for having their children be split between 2 parents during the holiday season. They don’t want to be alone on Christmas, staring at Christmas decorations and presents with no one there while their child is with the other parent. They might go back. (Don’t judge!) These feelings are very real and very very strong. It’s ok. Try to understand and honor their choice even if you don’t agree with it. Be supportive and there for them regardless of how things go.
Remember these things as we go through this holiday season. Be kind – you don’t know what other people are going through.