Valentine's Day can be difficult for a lot of people. It can trigger many people who’ve suffered abuse from a partner rather than love and tenderness. No amount of flowers and chocolate, whether from a loving new partner or bought for oneself, can make up for that. Since Valentine’s Day evokes an idealized notion of love, it can remind victims and survivors of good or bad times they had with an abuser.
Strong feelings come up during holidays. People hold onto the memories of the good times that they had, especially during these holidays, and that usually breeds a hope that this person can go back to being the good person that they were. Despite how much hurt they [experienced], they can remember how good it felt, and think that they can probably make it work, because at one time, things were good.
For people recovering from abuse and trauma, the healing process is a gradual process, and however you want to deal with the effects is valid. But it’s also important to acknowledge that while what happened to you may have left scars, those scars don’t have to define the day, event, or object you associate with them. You have the power to redefine those things for yourself so that they no longer haunt you.
If you’re an abuse survivor, there’s not one way to cope with feelings that Valentine’s Day might stir up. But if you can do things that empower you and make you feel good, that’s a step in the right direction. And for those of you who haven’t experienced abuse but know a friend who has, Valentine’s Day is a good time to reach out and remind them you’re there for them in any way they need.
Try to surround yourself with friends and family who make you feel validated and won’t encourage you to return to your abuser. You can also talk with a therapist or a survivor group where you can be candid about the trauma you experienced. Most importantly, put your own needs first. Do whatever makes you feel good and at peace. It could be meditating or seeing a silly movie or reading that book you've been curious about.
Overall, the hope is that with the right support, no matter where it comes from, triggers like Valentine’s Day will become less impactful. Yes, the trauma you experienced was real, but the memories of it don’t have to keep hurting you. The more autonomy you allow yourself to have over them, the sooner they’ll fade into the background.