From the hustle and bustle of the season to family gatherings, the holidays can be a difficult time of year for many, including survivors of sexual violence. Those who have experienced abuse or assault by a relative can find the holidays particularly challenging, as a family gathering means coming face-to-face with his or her perpetrator.
Elizabeth Fisher is a survivor and RAINN Speakers Bureau member who remembers feeling more afraid and anxious around Christmas. Elizabeth was sexually abused by her stepfather for many years as a child. She recalls that her stepfather would threaten the wellbeing of her mother and grandmother if she didn’t comply with his demands. “During the holidays it’s really hard for survivors if they are under the same roof as their perpetrators,” says Elizabeth. “Looking around and seeing my stepfather fit in with everybody else made it feel like it was my fault … and that I was alone.”
Fisher eventually reported the abuse and her stepfather was convicted for the crimes he committed against both her and his biological daughter.
Years later, after a long road to recovery, while watching an episode of Law & Order: SVU, she saw RAINN mentioned and went to the website. From there she applied to be a Speakers Bureau member to spread awareness.
“The Speakers Bureau let’s me try to help people and provide information to the community. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of something so important,” she says.
Fisher also shares recovery resources, like the National Sexual Assault Hotline , through her social media platforms. Self Care is also important for survivors and their loved ones, especially during the holidays. Read some Self Care tips here .
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it’s not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 (even around the holidays) through the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800.656.HOPE, and online at online.rainn.org .