When a Home is not a Home during the Holidays by Beaumont Todd
THE BAHAMAS CRISIS CENTRE
When Home is Not A Home During the holidays
Nancy Vega of Maria Droste Counseling Center located in Colorado in Domestic Violence and the Holidays: A Survivors Guide states, “The holidays are often thought of as the best time of the year. It is a time for loved ones, celebration, and joy. However, for victims of domestic violence, the holidays can be a very dark and scary time. Unrealistic expectations, financial pressures, and the increased consumption of alcohol can raise stress levels, which can contribute to incidents of domestic violence.”
Since the holiday season is supposed to be the best time of the year, many people have high expectations. These can include giving the best gifts, balancing time effectively, getting along with family, and having an abundance of holiday spirit. Many people can become stressed while trying to live up to these heightened expectations, and feel devastated if they fail. Before the holidays, it is important to set realistic expectations and realize that things may not go as planned.
Financial pressures and the stress of having a tight budget can feel more overwhelming during the holidays. The expectations of buying the best gifts can increase anxiety about how to handle the many added expenses. Some simple steps can help with stress management during the holidays. One way to help with financial strain is to develop a holiday budget and plan of action. Be realistic about gift giving; give gifts that your budget allows, whether that include store-bought or homemade items. Prioritizing gift giving and resisting external pressure and the internal urge to overspend can decrease holiday stress.
Another component of the holidays is the serving and drinking of alcohol. Sometimes, individuals will use alcohol and other substances to cope with holiday stress. However, drinking as a coping strategy often doesn’t help because the ability to cope decreases as the amount of alcohol consumed increases. While hosting holiday parties, offer a selection of non-alcoholic beverages and stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends. Consider attending a help group if you or a family member has struggled with alcohol dependency. The meetings can be one of the most important steps to reduce the level of stress during the holidays. Seeking out further assistance, such as addiction counseling, can also help you handle the stress of the holidays.
Domestic violence is more likely to occur when stress levels are high. During the holidays, unrealistic expectations, financial strain, and alcohol can increase stress, and therefore, incidents of domestic violence. If you find that you are in a domestic violence situation, it is important to have a safety kit in case you have to exit a dangerous situation quickly. This kit should be hidden in a safe place and should include emergency numbers, a bag of clothing and toiletries, important documents such as birth certificates and a driver’s license, medication, prescriptions, car keys, house keys, and cash.
There is help for persistent stress, worry, anxiety, depression, or overall negativity during the holidays. Finding the right therapist where you can have a safe place to get support and empowerment during difficult times can be helpful. Therapy can help with stress management, mood and relationships, and confidence and empowerment.”
Healing The Nation
Holidays are a time of family, love and sharing. A time to rekindle bonds and be grateful for those loved ones and friends we all have grown to appreciate, new and faithful. Yet regardless of the time of year or season many persons are living within an environment of fear, pain and abuse. During this time of celebration and joy many individuals are continued victims of violence, spousal abuse, rape and other violent and heinous acts. While many of us look forward to the reverie, partying and celebration others fear the result when their loved ones who hurt and abuse them comes home from a night of partying.
How you can help?
Most people know someone, or of someone, who is a victim of domestic violence. It may be someone in your family, a church member or a colleague in the work place. So what can you do to help, a love one or friend to not be a victim of violence or abuse during this season or any other time?
– Be alert to possible signs of domestic violence in your workplace; co-workers who are increasingly late or absent, unable to concentrate on their work, attempting to cover bruises or are just distracted and withdrawn.
– Neighbors, friends or family members may have isolated themselves feeling that the abuse is their fault.
- Encourage your friend, co-worker or family member to talk to you and assure them that they can trust you and that you will believe them.
– Do not be judgmental and let them know they do not have to stay in an abusive relationship.
– Suggest they obtain a Protective Order.
It can be very distressing to suspect or know someone you know, a family member, a friend, a colleague in the work place or a neighbor, is being abused. There may be a feeling of helplessness that you cannot do anything to assist. If the person is an adult, you cannot force them to make a report to the Police or to talk to someone, but you can encourage them to do so. Many victims of violence feel that nothing can be done to change their situation so the first step is to let them know that there is help available.
We are one people created equal by God and for the purpose of loving and being loved. Let us work together to heal families, communities, nation, world and ourselves.
ANYONE IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP, CAN CALL THE CRISIS CENTRE ON 328-0922 OR 322-4999. ANYONE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER SHOULD CALL THE POLICE ON 911, 919.