Strategies for Survivors This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time of celebration and a chance to reconnect with family and friends, but it can also present challenges for some survivors of sexual assault.

Perpetrators of sexual violence are usually someone the victim knows. This is especially true for those who have experienced child sexual abuse. For survivors, holiday gatherings may mean facing painful memories, feelings of anxiety, or a chance of repeated harm. Large gatherings can also make it more difficult for survivors to control if someone who hurt them in the past will be around them. Fortunately, there are ways to help survivors feel safe as they plan for holiday gatherings.

“Each survivor’s experience and healing process is unique, and for some people the holidays may be an especially tough time,” says Keeli Sorensen, vice president of victim services. “Simple safety tips, self-care strategies, and the support of loved ones can sometimes make all the difference.”

In addition to the painful memories and feelings of anxiety survivors may face during this season, for those traveling during the holidays going through airport security screening or spending an extended period of time in enclosed spaces can be difficult. To learn more tips—such as how to fill out a TSA notification card, request a private screening instead of a pat-down, or request a TSA Passenger Support Specialist—check out RAINN’s article on airport security for survivors.

During the holiday season, RAINN’s trained support specialists on the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org) are here to listen and provide resources to help survivors who are going through a difficult time.

For more information on self care and tips for feeling safe during the holidays, check out RAINN’s resources below:

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