Violence and Valentine’s Day: Why Feb. 14 Isn’t Always Sweet for Survivors

Violence and Valentine’s Day: Why Feb. 14 Isn’t Always Sweet for Survivors

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a holiday filled with love and appreciation for the significant others in our lives. But for survivors of domestic abuse, Valentine’s Day can be a triggering reminder of an abusive and traumatic relationship.

On a day that amplifies the loneliness of singlehood, it’s important to remember that domestic abuse survivors are not alone. An estimated 1 in 3 women have faced physical violence in an intimate relationship. And close to half have faced psychological abuse from a partner. If you or someone you love is struggling with abuse-related trauma this Valentine’s Day, remember that you can find hope and healing.

Painful Reminders: Domestic Violence and Valentine’s Day

Even after a domestic abuse survivor leaves a destructive relationship, the physical and psychological impacts can last a lifetime. Depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) prevail long after a woman finds physical safety.

Valentine’s Day – a holiday associated with relationships and love – can trigger difficult emotional responses for survivors. The gift-giving aspect might bring up memories of the “honeymoon phase” of abuse, when the abuser brought gifts to apologize for the violence. Or the focus around love and partnership might make survivors feel lonely and reminisce about the “good times” in the relationship.

It’s not uncommon for domestic abuse survivors to feel lonely, sad, or particularly anxious as Valentine’s Day approaches.

How Survivors Can Cope on Valentine’s Day

Recovering from trauma is a lifelong process. Triggering events (such as Valentine’s Day) can dredge up emotions we thought were long gone.

If you are a survivor of domestic violence, Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to practice self-love. There are many ways you can take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health during this time:

  • Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or professional counselor.
  • Call a helpline dedicated to helping domestic abuse victims and survivors.
  • Focus on self-care. Buy yourself that book you’ve wanted to read, get a nice bottle of wine, and be your own Valentine.
  • Hit the gym and work out those frustrations. Remind yourself that you are strong and capable.

Ways to Help Domestic Violence Survivors

Even if you haven’t experienced intimate partner violence, there are ways you can help. We love this story about a fellow survivor giving back to women in her community on Valentine’s Day. You could spread the love to local women’s shelters or simply be a listening ear for a family member or friend.

None of us are alone. This Valentine’s Day, let’s show love to those around us, and to ourselves.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, don’t wait to seek help. Learn more about the signs of domestic violence and find resources to help you stay safe here.

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