How Does Violence Affect Kids? Holidays can be especially toxic for some families…

Ray Rice

Ray Rice incident of domestic violence sparked a national conversation…time for more awareness…

ViolenceKids

How Violence Affects Children…click image for larger view.

Raising Domestic Violence Awareness During the Holidays… Quote from this website article from 9News… Click on the video clip while reading the article…

“But after the video of then-Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee Janay Rice in an elevator surfaced, calls to the National Domestic Violence hotline (1-800-799-SAFE)increased by 84 percent and remained higher than normal. Locally, a domestic violence advocacy organization in Loveland said they’ve received a significant increase in calls to their hotline and in walk-in requests for assistance since the video’s release.”

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For very many kids who live with toxic circumstances at home, there is no break for the holidays…  The holidays stirred up lots of extra stress and frustration in our home during my childhood c1950’s.  I know why now, as an adult and trauma survivor in my own life…  My parents lived with so much emotional pain that they created expectations of relief and a brief time for peace of mind for the holidays…  As kids we were mostly joyful with big expectations for the holiday season.  It was supposed to be the happiest time of the year.  It was more often not the case in our home.  I know now that in every neighborhood there are many homes that show a pattern of increased violence during the weeks leading up to Christmas.  Carrying around emotional baggage from past traumatic events cannot be put away during this special time of the year.  It is in general better to lower expectations during the holidays and be realistic about the journey healing from past traumatic events.

If your parent is a combat veteran, bad memories are often more vivid during the holidays.  My father lost close friends and shipmates during the holidays starting with the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Dad tried to hide his pain with alcohol, the only choice for self medication at the time.  We siblings were often in the middle of rage and fights, sometimes physical and mental abuse.  Consequently, the fear of the holidays and terrible memories became part of our family culture.  It was much better to be in school or at a friend’s home to feel safe and joyful.  We always envied families who seemed happy, and loved to be invited over to share in the holiday joy and laughter…tough to find in our home for the most part. 

Awareness is the key in mitigating a potentially explosive holiday season.  Step up the awareness campaign in your home and do not pretend.  By discussing expectations and past experiences of toxic behavior and the reasons together as a family, you could be surprised that improved relationships and some peace of mind can be discovered along the way.  Talking to each other and showing you care can make a huge difference.  Get the hugging started,  and cry when you feel like it.  Surrounding your family with love and attention is the best treatment possible as trauma survivors.  Don’t escape to your “blanket fort.”  Stay in the family room close to the spirit of Christmas and joy of the season.  Do this together as a family!  You will not be disappointed…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

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