The Christmas period can be challenging for many of us, for a whole host of reasons. However, for child survivors of crime, especially intensely personal crimes such as domestic abuse, it can be a period where traumas are re-lived and re-imagined by the survivor. Grief, loss, fear, and heartache are often internalised by the child as the rest of the world seems to celebrate amidst the glitz and festivities (Stanley, 2011). Oftentimes, (and quite naturally) the protective parent will be presenting as brave a face as possible during the holiday period to try and compensate the child for previous negative experiences, and this can, unfortunately, sometimes lead to further feelings of doubt and confusion.
Although professional support is frequently needed to repair the damage witnessing a crime can cause to a child (Howarth, et al., 2015), by far and away the best therapy for traumatised children is a return to some semblance of ‘normalcy’, where for a few minutes, hours, or days the child feels as though they belong to a world where kindness, love, and nurture are (perhaps for the first time) the ‘norm’ (Hester, 2007). From war-torn parts of the planet, to areas of drought and famine, at this time of year we often see news footage of aid workers handing out gifts from abroad, perhaps along with a quick hug and reassuring smile in an attempt to try and heal the awful damage done to these children.
So it is a little closer to home with the Embrace ‘Dear Santa’ appeal. Child survivors of crime in the UK deserve all the reassurance, love and kindness they can get, and so I am more than delighted to support this annual charitable event.
Hester, M. (2007). Making an impact children and domestic violence: A reader (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: J. Kingsley.
Howarth, E., Moore, T., Shaw, A., Welton, N., Feder, G., Hester, M., Stanley, N. (2015). The Effectiveness of Targeted Interventions for Children Exposed to Domestic Violence: Measuring Success in Ways that Matter to Children, Parents and Professionals. Child Abuse Review, 24(4), 297-310.
Stanley, N. (2011). Children Experiencing Domestic Violence: A Research Review. Research in Practice.