Not All Christmas
Celebrations Are Merry
Not All Christmas Celebrations Are Merry
Chris Thomason, Chaplain
Christmas, a time to celebrate, a time for families to get together. For those of us who identify as Christians it is also a time to remember the birth of our Saviour. A time to reflect on what it means to be Christian, a time to reflect on the life of Jesus, a time to reflect on what it means, when in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matt 22:39b NRSVUE).
But, for some it is a time of dread, fear and worry. There are expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations and people cannot cope. Most families have tensions, even our own church family has tensions. Not everyone can work through or live with these tensions.
Anecdotal evidence suggests the holiday period around Christmas and New Year is the worst time of the year for family and domestic violence incidents.
So not only has there been an increase in family domestic violence incidents across Australia since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are entering the worst time of year for those incidents.
Children are the invisible and often forgotten victims of family and domestic violence. One in three incidents in WA report children being exposed to violence. This exposure means that these children can not grow up in a nurturing environment. They live in a home dominated by fear, where violence is normalised. They are twice as likely to experience partner abuse as an adult than others. But, with the right support, children can recover from the trauma they have suffered.
Grace* and her sister were exposed to substance abuse and significant family domestic violence between their mother and father, and by the time Grace was four, they had already been placed into foster care, reunited with their biological parents, only to end up back in foster care again. Grace (now 10 years old) feels most safe with her foster parents and sister.
Grace’s story isn’t uncommon to our Young Hearts counsellors at Anglicare WA, and it is their job to try and help children like Grace feel safe enough to explore their past trauma so that they can heal and break the cycle of family domestic violence.
Young Hearts directly supports children and young people who have been exposed to family and domestic violence.
Our counsellors seek to inspire feelings of safety and connection in these children, improving their immediate health and wellbeing, as well as providing opportunities for healthy relationships in the future.
Through counselling, it became evident that Grace was artistic and that the process of making and creating helped to still her mind. This became a major avenue through which much of the therapeutic work was done.
2 in 5 Australians would not know where to get help for domestic violence, but luckily Grace had people around her that did.
Additionally, if you or someone you know is experiencing family domestic violence, our Friend in Need app provides a variety of support options and information. If you’re not sure where to go, call us on 1300 11 44 46.
We wish you a safe and happy Christmas.
* Name has been changed»
Anglicare WA is committed to ensuring children don’t grow up thinking that this kind of behaviour is okay. If you wish to support our Young Hearts program, you can make a gift this Christmas by heading to anglicarewa.org.au/donate