Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence
December 2010
Airplane flyingVolume 1, Issue 22
Ohio Alliance to
End Sexual Violence

Handling Holiday Stress

During this holiday season as we're bombarded with carols, themed movies, and endless gift-buying advice, ever present is the season's companion, holiday stress. It's now a commonly recognized phenomenon, and at the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence (OAESV), we'd like to acknowledge that this stress can be particularly acute for survivors of sexual violence.

It could be that survivors are encountering their first post-trauma holiday, or that they will come into contact with their attacker/abuser over the holidays. Perhaps their Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) makes the holidays particularly difficult, or encounters with family members bring up painful memories surrounding the violence and the subsequent response.

OAESV would like to share some resources for managing holiday stress, as well as how it relates to sexual violence and re-encountering an attacker/abuser.

We hope as you celebrate holidays this season you experience relaxation and peaceful togetherness.


Jennifer Yoder
Victim Services Coordinator
Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence

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Tips and Guides for Coping with Holiday Stress
  • "It is normal to feel overwhelmed during the holiday season. The pressure to have the perfect holiday can be extraordinary," says Dr. Katherine Nordal, executive director for professional practice at American Psychological Association (APA) Check out some American Psychological Association Tips.
  • Elizabeth Scott, M.S., wellness coach and health educator specializing in stress management, wrote this helpful guide to understanding holiday stress.
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has these tips about relaxation and expectation-setting.
  • Ohio's own Cleveland Clinic has an excellent guide to managing holiday stress.

Sexual Violence and Holiday Stress

As one guide points out:

The holiday season is a time when getting "the blues" is especially common. For survivors of trauma and abuse, this time of year can be an extremely painful and difficult time. As many people are enjoying the season, celebrating with friends and family, and spending some time off of work or school to relax, survivors may find themselves experiencing depression, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed. It is especially hard to take care of oneself or reach out for support when "joys of the season" are everywhere and you feel just the opposite.

This guide was written by California Black Women's Health Project for Black women in 2006, and has insights for everyone into the particular needs of survivors of sexual violence during the holiday season.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Holidays

An expert on PTSD, Dr. Matthew Tull has written a helpful guide about PTSD and the Holiday Season.

"The holiday season can be stressful for the person with PTSD, and therefore, it is important to learn how to cope with PTSD and family holidays. The holidays are usually a joyous occasion - a time for families to come together and spend time with each other. However, when a family member has PTSD, the holidays may become a stressful time for all involved.

A family member's PTSD does not have to negatively impact the holiday season. There are things that you can do to make sure the holiday season is pleasant and enjoyable for everyone."


Seeing an Attacker/Abuser

Given that according to Bureau of Justice statistics 7 in 10 women know their attacker, there are surprisingly few resources for survivors on coping with seeing their attackers/abusers. OAESV plans to address this need in the coming year. Here is one helpful resource for survivors encountering their attacker/abuser from Pandora's Project.

The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence is funded in part through a grant from the Office of Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice and the Ohio Attorney General Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds. Neither the U.S. Department of Justice or the Ohio Attorney General's Office nor any of its components operate, control, are responsible for, or necessarily endorse this communication (including, without limitation, its content, technical infrastructure, and policies, and any services or tools provided).

(888) 886-8388 http://www.oaesv.org