Opinion » Minerva's Breakdown

Minerva's Breakdown

Your Holiday, Your Choice


Dear Minerva,

I know several people having to choose between spending the holidays alone, with no immediate family, or "celebrating" the season with someone who has sexually assaulted/attacked them. This seems like an outrageous choice to have to make. My people know they are welcome to spend the holidays with me, but not everyone out there has that option. What advice do you have for them?


Friends are Chosen Family

Dear Chosen,

It is outrageous that people would ever be expected to spend time with the person who sexually assaulted them. The skeletons in family closets work themselves out in weird ways, and the nuanced layers of regret and trauma all too often take a backseat to family gatherings. My feelings are that one absolutely has no obligation to spend time with their abuser. Ever. Blood relation is not a "free pass" for hurtful behavior. Especially in the instances of sexual abuse, to ask someone to just tolerate what has happened is mortifying. Spending the holidays alone doesn't have to be a negative. Spend it with friends who love you or, if you are flying solo, do the things that feed your soul and soothe your spirit. Part of the etymology of the word "celebrate" includes the words "honor" and "joy." Honoring your abuser is not joyful. Honoring yourself joyfully, however, is an acceptable way to celebrate. Make no apologies for prioritizing your own well-being during the holidays.