Building a Home for the Holidays
The holiday season is one that emphasizes the importance of family and reconnecting with those that matter most to us. However, for many survivors of exploitation, this is a painful time in which they may have been separated from their families because of the trauma they experienced.
I know from my own experience just how deep this wound can go. The holidays are difficult and cause me to be more on edge because I know that it is the time when my family will try to engage with me. Instead of joy, this brings dread because my home was not a safe home during the holidays in the past. It was a time of pain, abuse, and being forced to be in the presence of the family member who trafficked me year after year.
Carrying these wounds has made the holidays a rather lonely experience in which I wonder where and with whom I belong. Nonetheless, the individuals who are willing to open up their homes and welcome me to celebrate with them in a safe and loving context have been invaluable to me.
I desire this for others, but this cannot be done without a willingness to make room in our own families for a few strangers. When my friends first welcomed me into their home, I was an unknown and suspicious person, fearing punishment for the little mistakes I would make. Instead, I faced the complication of having my perceptions challenged. Instead, I was welcomed with grace.
Offering others a place in our homes is not easy. It invites conflict, tension, and the unknown. You may fear not saying the right words to a traumatized person such as myself, but that’s okay. What matters is that you show that you care. And caring doesn’t always have to look like inviting a stranger through the door or sitting with a survivor of exploitation at your table.
Caring can look like participating in activities like charitable giving, being a part of the Dressember campaign, or even just having a willingness to be open to the people around you. So many individuals face painful holidays and need a safe place where they can experience the joy and love of this season. This is a time when everyone desires to feel like they belong somewhere and with someone, when everyone wants to give and receive.
I can guarantee that there is someone in each of our lives that needs that extra consideration, care, and investment. We cannot be afraid to give our time, resources, and presence, nor can we either discount our ability to make a deep impact in a story that has only carried pain during a time that is known to be celebratory.
As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Our actions and choices can make people feel cut off or supported, cherished or passed over. Our words can encourage or tear down. With our words and actions, we offer safety, comfort, and compassion, which communicates just what we feel about one another. We all have something to offer this holiday season, and may we all be aware of just what that is.
It is not too late to be a part of the impact!
Right now, thousands of people around the world are taking on the creative challenge of wearing a dress or tie in the month of December. The reason? To bring freedom to the 40+ million around the world still trapped in slavery. Your donation or participation in Dressember 2018 is part of a movement to end human trafficking for good.
About the Author
Grace is a survivor of human trafficking who is working on a degree in professional psychology. She is passionate about being a part of the movement to end slavery by providing trauma-informed services to fellow survivors after her schooling is finished. She is an avid reader, loves to create art and music, play with animals, and take note of the little bits of beauty that make up ordinary life.