U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs
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Coping with the Holidays as a Crime Survivor

Thursday, December 10, 2015
By Marilyn McCoy Roberts, Office for Victims of Crime, Deputy Director

The holiday season is meant to be a cheerful time spent with loved ones. But this time of year is not joyful for everyone. Trauma and anxiety can return for crime victims, especially at this time of year. For those who have recently experienced a tragedy or lost a family member or friend, the holiday cheer may seem too much to bear.

As we enter the holiday season, I want to make you aware of OVC resources that support those who have been victims of crime. If you or someone you know is anxious about the upcoming holidays, please refer to OVC’s Coping with the Holidays e-publication. Here, we have compiled some online resources and suggestions from survivors on how to make the best of the holiday season.

The first time celebrating a holiday after the death of a loved one may be a particularly difficult experience. When a member of the family is no longer there to share a cherished tradition, the holiday can become a painful reminder instead of a time of joy. Through the holiday season, victims of crimes, family members, friends, and colleagues may re-experience life-changing traumas through flashbacks, nightmares, and overwhelming sadness. The holidays may bring new or returning bouts of depression, panic attacks, feelings of displacement, and other forms of anxiety for individuals who have been affected by tragedy. Grief may become even more intense.

Though there are no rules to follow regarding how to “get through” a holiday, the Coping with the Holidays resource provides a number of suggestions from survivors on how to manage grief at this time of year. Suggestions we have highlighted include creating a special tribute, balancing solitude with sociability, reliving happy memories, finding a creative outlet, and protecting your health. In addition, this BJA-sponsored resource developed by MADD provides further suggestions for coping with the loss of a loved one during the holidays.

I hope these resources provide you with support during the holiday season.

About the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
OVC is committed to enhancing the Nation’s capacity to assist crime victims and to providing leadership in changing attitudes, policies, and practices to promote justice and healing for all victims of crime.

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