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Holiday Safety Planning

Sara Heidbreder LCPC, BC-DMT, GLCMA


The holiday season is here! For many of us, the holiday season may be a joyful time. However, for people who live in abusive and violent households, the holidays can be a nightmare.

When we talk about domestic violence, we may imagine bruises, black eyes, and other physical signs on survivors. Although these are definitely signs of abuse, much of the abuse people experience are invisible.

Emotional pressure, manipulation, and verbal abuse are quite common. Especially during the holidays. Some may control you by inhibiting family contact or refusing you access to finances for holiday spending. Additionally, with COVID-19, many survivors have no choice but to stay home this year. This can increase the chance of intense violence such as beatings and verbal threats.

To prepare for a safe holiday season, I would like to share tips that the Day One organization ( a Domestic Violence support organization) suggests!!


Creating A Safety Plan- If You’re Experiencing Abuse

  • Consider discussing ways to make parties or family visits safer. An example is asking if people can make a commitment to not have alcohol around, or limit the amount served.
  • If you’re a survivor who does not feel safe sleeping in the same room as your partner, consider talking with your hosts or family about finding a separate couch or sharing a room with other guests or family members.
  • Consider brainstorming reasons to get out, like helping someone with holiday plans or gift shopping; you can be creative with these ideas.
  • Try to make your own plans to get rest, get good nutrition, talk to supportive friends and do things you enjoy.


Creating A Safety Plan- If You’re A Family Member or Friend

  • Ask the survivor to go on a shopping trip or errand with you, go for a walk or workout, invite them to a celebration or have them help you with a chore/holiday prep activity in order to give the victim space away from their abusive partner.
  • Offer to be on standby for the survivor’s texts or calls throughout the holiday season; have your phone on and fully charged at all times and keep it on you.
  • Assure them that they are welcome to take refuge in your home if they need somewhere to stay.
  • Check-in regularly: call or text your loved one once a day at a random time to see if they are all right.


If you want to learn more about safety planning for domestic violence survivors, contact me at

Wishing you a safe and healthy holiday season!



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