I love the holidays. I love the lights. I love the parties. I love the love!
But being a survivor of domestic violence, I also know that the holidays can trigger abusive outbursts.
Abusers are often the children of abusers, and for many, holidays dredge up traumatic memories of deprivation, humiliation, parental anger and stress, which can trigger their own abusive tendencies.
When I was married to an abuser, I could almost predict that there would be conflict in our home just as everyone else was gearing up to get happy. Vacations included altercations. My husband was miserable when he wasn’t occupied. It took me a while to realize that he was better off at work!
Here are some tips for staying safe if you have the type of partner who goes off the deep end during the holiday season:
- Keep a fully charged cell phone with you at all times. Keep important numbers (police, domestic violence hotline, a friend who can help in an emergency) on speed dial and commit them to memory in case your phone’s confiscated.
- Keep plenty of cash on hand in case your partner leaves you stranded.
- Wherever you stay, identify escape routes. Two are better than one!
Bonus tip: If you stay at home for the holidays, keep a discreet overnight bag packed and handy.
All of the above may seem insane to anyone who hasn’t experienced intimacy with an abusive partner.
If you’re living with one, don’t worry. I’m not here to judge. I know how complicated these relationships are and how difficult it can be to extract yourself, especially when it’s someone you love and when things aren’t always bad.
And when you’re holding out the hope that they might get better or at least get help.
We’ll talk about that later.
For now, just try to have a sane and happy holiday. And above all, stay safe.