So, today is Valentine’s Day; a day nationally recognized as a day to celebrate love with a significant other. But, for a victim of domestic violence, it can be a day of romance or an absolute nightmare. Abusers often use this day to shower their victims with gifts that represent their love and affection, as a means of keeping a victim happy and stationary. Victims are shown the kinder, softer and more loving side of their abusers. It’s the side they fell in love with. It’s the side they trusted and respected. It’s the side that makes them feel good. It’s the side they are reminded of when they consider leaving.

From a nightmare standpoint, abusers may choose to not show any display of love and affection at all. They don’t acknowledge the day. There are no flowers, candy, balloons or cards. There are no compliments, no accolades. Sometimes, the victim is left alone while the abuser is actually out with someone else. It can leave one to feel sad, alone and depressed.

It’s important for victims and survivors to know and understand the need to acquire and maintain a sense of self love. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it can and will over time. As an advocate, I’m personally committed to ensuring that we show victims & survivors that this is a necessary part of growth and self esteem. The more emphasis we place on ourselves, the less we become dependent on the need to accept the temporary or non existent display of love from abusers, and anyone else, as a means of feeling cared for, wanted, needed or desired.