Supporting Victims and Survivors During the Holiday Season
For many of us, the holiday season is a time of joy, warmth, and togetherness. However, for victims of crime who have experienced trauma, the holiday season can bring about increased stress, fear, anger, or anxiety. It’s important to recognize the unique challenges faced by survivors so we can collectively foster a more supportive and understanding environment during this season.
The holidays tend to emphasize family, connection, and tradition, which can serve as reminders of what was taken away or disrupted by the crime. Family gatherings can be complex for survivors, especially if their families are unaware of or unsupportive of their experiences. The presence of certain family members may remind them of the crime or the lack of support they received, making it difficult to fully engage in holiday celebrations.
Interactions with family members who may not fully understand the long-term impact of the victim’s trauma can also be emotionally draining. Survivors may feel disconnected from others who are seemingly enjoying the festivities, which can intensify their sense of loneliness and alienation. Victims of crime may also face financial difficulties due to the expenses associated with the crime, such as medical bills, legal fees, or property damage. The additional financial burden of holiday expenses can exacerbate their stress and anxiety.
There are many ways we can support survivors during the holidays. First, we can ensure that holiday celebrations are inclusive and flexible. Recognize that not everyone has the same experience during this time and that it's okay to adapt traditions to accommodate the needs and comfort levels of all participants. Next, we can encourage survivors to prioritize self-care during the holiday season. It’s healthy for survivors to set boundaries, take breaks when needed, and engage in activities that bring them comfort and joy. Finally, we can provide information about available resources and support services. Let survivors know that they are not alone and that there are professionals and organizations ready to offer support and help all year long.
The holiday season should be a time of compassion and understanding. By understanding and creating awareness of the unique stressors faced by victims of crime, we can work to create a more empathetic and supportive community throughout the season.