As we delve into December, reflections on family, culture, and the holiday season occupy many of our minds. For some, these times may bring about trauma and grief, both personal and global. In the face of the pain in the world, the thought of celebrating a holiday may feel impossible.
Recent events in October and November, particularly the Israel-Hamas conflict and genocide, have stirred calls for justice and left a profound impact on many. Whether it be a dinner table argument, the loss of connections, homes, families, or lives, the effects are direct and staggering.
This is a time of many stories. As many have said, we are watching the war on our phones. The stories of survivors hold a resonance, and each is unique. If you witness this conflict from afar–like me–you may feel torn in many directions.
Amidst these stories, I bring a perspective grounded in sexual assault advocacy. On this sexual assault storytelling platform, we acknowledge the diverse and unique stories that emerge from survivors who navigate their healing journey amid the complexities of ongoing global conflicts. I can’t help but see similarities in the outcries of those affected by the war and genocide who bravely post online to share their experiences and demand change. The stories, often told through the lens of personal experiences, remind me that lessons learned in sexual assault advocacy hold a potential to connect with all survivors of violence. Like many other survivors and supporters, I feel solidarity with these people who are so far from me. Being trauma informed means centering their voices and holding space for the resonances of conflicts, personal to global.
In this space dedicated to sharing narratives of healing, the parallels between sexual assault and the broader cruelty of war become evident. Research underscores that sexual assault is not a secondary issue but often a tool of larger atrocities such as colonization, war, and genocide. As we witness these events, a pressing need for comprehensive care for survivors arises. Recognizing the diversity among survivors, the question emerges: How do we uplift them all?
Mobilization efforts may feel tiresome, but it’s crucial to remember that being part of a wave of change is transformative. Action, but also hope, education, self-sustainment, and care are radical acts I have learned, as emphasized in a recent teach-in I was a part of on the cultural forces contributing to the Israel-Hamas War and ongoing genocide.
Drawing inspiration from Audre Lorde’s insights, particularly “Poetry is Not a Luxury,” I reflect on the power within each individual to redefine stifled parts and envision liberatory futures. This practice of examining shared emotions becomes a way to honor the past and imagine a brighter future. Lorde writes:
“These places of possibility within ourselves are dark because they are ancient and hidden; they have survived and grown strong through darkness. Within these deep places, each one of us holds an incredible reserve of creativity and power, of unexamined and unrecorded emotion and feeling. The woman’s place of power within each of us is neither white nor surface; it is dark, it is ancient, and it is deep.”
Lorde’s assertion that within each of us lies a potent source of power, not confined to the surface or defined by societal norms, resonates deeply. I believe this passage holds relevance for all who are oppressed. In solidarity with Lorde, examining the emotion that connects humanity is a practice of honoring the past as well as imagining more hopeful futures. As we grapple with the stories of trauma and resilience, we are reminded that within these struggles lie opportunities for transformation.
In navigating the emotional turmoil of this holiday season, you may be wondering how you might get through it all. I urge you to prioritize self-care and acknowledge the complexity of the emotions you may be feeling. Don’t be afraid to take action, but also recognize when you might need to rest. Engage in activities that bring solace and comfort, whether it be a creative outlet, mindfulness practices, or spending time in nature. Additionally, recognize the importance of boundaries and don’t be afraid to give yourself grace if you feel that you need to step back from festivities if needed. Ultimately, finding a balance between honoring your emotional well-being and participating in meaningful traditions and actions can contribute to a more manageable holiday experience.
As we navigate the emotional complexities of this holiday season, it is essential to approach ourselves and others with kindness and understanding. Embracing the nuances of grief and hope, acknowledging the impact of recent global events, and finding care in supportive relationships are key components of this journey. Remember that healing is a multifaceted process. By fostering a sense of connection, both within ourselves and with those around us, we can collectively find moments of light amidst the shadows, take meaningful action, and pave the way for a more compassionate and hopeful future.
- A blog from Our Wave on seeking comfort in culture and holiday celebrations after abuse.
- Art Heals: The Jingle Dress Project. We turn to colonized peoples at this time to learn from their hope and resilience.
- “Poetry is Not a Luxury” by Audre Lorde
- “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action” by Audre Lorde