Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Breaking Bread With the Abuser During the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration and cherished memories. Families, friends and old acquaintances find their way back to the nest to share meals, to visit and to spend time together. And although being in close quarters with our loved ones is usually seen as a good thing there are those instances where the combination of history, familial ties and lies can cause even more stress and damage to those who have suffered abuse.

Survivors of abuse often find themselves surrounded by the same people who caused the abuse. I was fortunate to not have had to break bread with wolves, my father would have killed a man where he stood for any shenanigans of that type. But unfortunately, I’ve heard countless stories of families where the abusers, whether verbal, physical or sexual were welcomed in the home. The presence of these victimizers are often the uncles, grandfathers, step fathers, and male cousins that have caused traumatic suffering to one or more female family members.

Truth be told, how many families are dysfunctional in and of themselves? Yet family members are asked to ignore the dramatics, to ignore the memories and to ignore the discomfort in the air that hangs like a thick cloud over the dinner table all for the sake of “keeping face” during the holidays? Family members are instructed to not mention incidences, to not bring up rumors, to not leave girl children in the same room as certain other people.

Everyone knows.

Enablers, who often know of the abuse, concern themselves more with continuing to put on a good face than they are about creating an environment that is safe and sane for their loved ones. They invite the very people whom have abused them or others to sit at the table in brotherhood. The door is open for the predator to come back in. There is a welcome mat set up for abusers that is not available for the sufferers of abuse.

Why is that? How valuable can a facade of a family be that certain people would rather sweep atrocities under the floor mat instead of address them? If you are a person that has broken away and did the work of healing then maybe it’s time for you to make some changes within your own family. It’s not necessarily your responsibility to dissembled and break down the history and cause of why the abuser abuses, but you can sure take ownership of whether or not you allow yourself to be further abused by tolerating disgusting people.

What you can do is speak out, and openly about your abuse. You can warn others in the family in plain language so that it is understood that certain person’s pose a danger. And you certainly have the right to restrict access to yourself and your children. Your well being and safety are worth more than appeasing family members who are comfortable in their dysfunction.

Don’t waste another year enjoying yourself until too much liquor has been poured and the couple that should have divorced years ago erupt into their annual curse out session. Free yourself from having to witness the beatings, the harmful words, the emotional upheaval that follows when broken people get together for the holidays.

Don’t bother bringing your children with you to visit Mom and Dad while warning your children to stay away from the known insectuous pediphile. Instead, take them elsewhere. Take them, and yourself to a place where you won’t need to look over your shoulder. If you feel that you must spend time with family during the holidays then maybe you should consider hosting your own holiday get together, I can almost assure you that the family will be split up, and those who want to breath fresher air may take you up on the offer for a saner holiday.

For those of you who enjoy lighting the flame under kerosine you are free to visit, however painful it may be, you are free to see and spend time with the loved ones whom you cherish and who cherish you back. What you don’t have to do, is break bread with an abuser during this holiday season.

When they all guess who’s coming to dinner make sure the answer is ‘not I’ if your well being and the safety of your offspring are in jeopardy. The holidays stand for many things to many people, tolerance of abuse, degradation, humiliation and shame are not a part of any nativity scene, nor Charlie Brown Christmas show I’ve ever seen.

If you need permission to do what’s in your best interest then I offer it to you in a beautifully wrapped gift box. My gift to you this holiday season is empathy, wellness, consideration and some gumption to go against the grain. If a family tradition requires you to relive pain and sell the souls of your younger family members to the Devil, then maybe it’s time for a new tradition.

Let’s start one where we make family a place of strength, love, acceptance and hope for those who deserve it instead for those who destroy it.





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