Valentine's Day can be difficult for a lot of people. The way Valentine's Day is associated with celebration of being in love causes individuals who have been and are in abusive relationships to have a negative experience. Specifically, for survivors and victims of abusive relationships, it can trigger who have suffered abuse from their partner rather than love and tenderness. No amount of flowers and chocolate from a loving new partner or bought by oneself can make up for the abuse experienced. Since Valentine’s Day evokes an idealized notion of love, it can remind victims and survivors of the good or bad times faced with an abuser.
Unfortunately, society neglects the fact how abusive relationships are relevant when emphasizing the celebration of love. For individuals who have been in abusive relationships, Valentine's Day will be a day they reminisce about their abusive partner, which can lead them to self doubt and self hate. Being ignorant of self doubt and abuse, some victims and survivors still continue to hope Valentine’s Day will change their partner’s heart and some wish to begin a new relationship without healing from their past.
For victims recovering from an abusive relationship, the healing process is highly gradual. While being on the journey to recover, it is important to acknowledge the scars you have now does not define the day, event, or object you associate with. You have the power to redefine those things for yourself so that they no longer haunt you.
If you’re a survivor from an abusive relationship, there are many ways to cope with the stress, memories, and self hate Valentine’s Day might bring. When planning how to spend Valentine’s Day, put your own needs first. Do whatever makes you feel good and at peace. By empowering yourself through self care, watching your favorite movie or even baking, you are taking the right direction to celebrating your independence, freedom, and healing process. Similar to getting into the kitchen or binge watching your favorite movie again, Valentine’s Day can be a day for you to celebrate it with your friends and family. You are not obligated to do what society expects you to perform on Valentine's Day. You have the right to rewrite stories. You have the right to take your power back. In addition, you have the right to be surrounded by those who make you feel validated and won’t encourage you to return to your abuser. Furthermore, this day can be spent by talking with your therapist or a survivor group where you can be candid about the trauma you experienced. For those of you who have not experienced abuse but know a friend who has, Valentine’s Day is a good time to reach out and remind them of your unconditional love and support.
The overall message is by spending Valentine’s Day with strong support and right intention, triggers and self hate can be less impactful and prevented. 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.