How to Handle the Holidays as a Survivor

Holidays and family get-togethers can be trying for anyone, but for survivors of child sexual abuse they can be even more difficult. Especially if your family is tied to your abuse in some way. It could be that they didn’t believe you, that they didn’t stop it, that they don’t support you in getting help, or that someone in your family was the perpetrator.

So, what do you do in order to keep yourself safe and happy during the holidays?

We asked the clinicians here at The Younique Foundation for their tips, and most of them, unsurprisingly, centered around self-care.

It’s important that you take care of yourself before, during, and after any events you attend. Here is the advice from our clinicians:

• Remember that you are the expert on your own life. Nobody knows what’s best for you more than you do. The more you trust what your “inner voice” whispers to you, the better you will get at trusting yourself. You have the right to set healthy boundaries for yourself. Keep this in mind if friends or family make you feel bad about your choices any time during the holidays.
• Be kind to yourself and make self-care a priority–you are worth the time and investment to keep yourself healthy.
• Realize that triggers may happen during holiday events, so make a plan ahead of time for how you are going to deal with them. Proactively face triggers instead of operating in a reactive mode.
• If possible, make sure you can contact your therapist or a trusted friend if you start feeling anxious or panicking. Let them know beforehand that you’re going to be at a certain place at a certain time and may need to talk to them in that time-frame.
• Create physical distance between yourself and your perpetrator if they are a member of your family. Avoid being alone with them and try to sit as far from them as possible.
• Don’t give up–stay vigilant, give yourself space to think, and remember what has helped in the past.
• Practice your favorite grounding techniques.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays can be fun and exciting. Sometimes though it can be overwhelming and exhausting. Remember to take the time for self-care. Relax in a bubble bath, sip a cup of cocoa in front of the fireplace, practice yoga stretches for tension relief, or immerse yourself in a good book. Feeling rejuvenated and uplifted will give you the energy to face the hustle and bustle.