Valentine’s day, also called St Valentine’s day, is considered to be a celebration of love, affection, and romance. There are many legends behind this Pagan celebration. One legend claims that St Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men make better soldiers, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied Claudius and performed marriages for young lovers in secret. He was considered a rebel and was executed by the emperor.
Another legend claims that Valentine was an imprisoned man who fell in love with his jailor’s daughter. Before his death, he sent a letter to her, and signed it, “From your Valentine”. Even though there is not much historic proof behind these legends, one thing is clear. That over the years Valentine has emerged as a sympathetic, heroic, and most likely a romantic figure. By the middle ages, he became one of the most popular Saints in England and France.
Looking from the eyes of a behavioral health specialist, this day can bring a feeling of deep sadness for many survivors of domestic abuse or domestic violence. It can make them feel worthless all over again, depressed or vulnerable. They can easily decompensate with symptoms of PTSD and or depression.
According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Valentines’s Day is actually one of the few days where there is a slight decrease in reports of domestic violence. This short-lasting relief, unfortunately, is an indication of how scary these patterns of abuse can be. The perpetrator, soon after the abuse (whether physical, emotional, or verbal) starts acting like a “white knight”. He showers his victim (his partner) with attention, gifts, and treats her like royalty.
Millions of such trauma clients fall prey to their abusive partner’s valentine gifts and gestures. Many of their scars have not even healed, but they start showing signs of temporary warmth and hope in their hearts when the abuser showers them with flowers and other gifts.
Additionally, when society creates a culture of expecting lavish gifts- dinner dates, lingerie, chocolates, etc.- combined with the widespread marketing of Valentine’s Day, it can be pretty difficult to escape that yearning for true love and affection.
Even a small trip to the grocery store reminds you of the need and expectation of this day to bring you “true love”. It chases you wherever you go.
It is quite understandable that those victims become extra vulnerable to either their perpetrator’s manipulative techniques to keep them in the relationship or to even find another romantic partner/valentine with similar tendencies.
We are in the middle of a pandemic. People are and will be looking for small ways to bring normalcy to their lives. And what more than to celebrate this day of love, the way they used to!
Statistics are showing that sales will be up by 31 percent as compared to the last year. And so are our concerns as health care providers for a rise of that honeymoon-phase moment. That may be something for those in an unhealthy, toxic, or abusive relationship to be aware of. Will they be more vulnerable this time? The pandemic in itself has increased the incidence of abuse, and it has become even more difficult for victims to leave their abusers due to the added financial burdens or other dependencies.
My hope is that this Valentine’s Day, if you have not yet found that trusted partner who can value you for who you truly are, then dedicate and celebrate this day to yourself! When you go out to the store and get that “fuzzy feeling,” the desire to be loved or appreciated, you can treat yourself with that box of chocolates, that perfume, that bouquet. You may also want to put some headphones on, stroll through those aisles, appreciate the moment, take a deep breath and focus on the more important things going on in your life. Here are some mindful practices you can implement this Valentine’s Day to celebrate true love for yourself.
Accept yourselves, with all your shortcomings.
Allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling in a moment.
Allow yourself to express your vulnerabilities.
Compliment yourself for even getting the basic things done, like having a job, or ensuring your children are fed or have attended school.
Put up boundaries in your relationships if you can.
Refuse gifts from people who have hurt you physically, emotionally, verbally, or in any other way.
Connect with people with whom you feel safe, loved, and accepted wholeheartedly.
Feel grateful for things you have in life, even the most basic of blessings.
Forgive yourself for the times you messed up, made mistakes, felt bad, embarrassed, or ashamed.
Be creative, allow yourself to dive deep into one of your hobbies.
Have fun with yourself by doing things that give you joy, inner peace, and make you feel special inside.
Buy something simple for the ones you love unconditionally, be it your family, a friend, or a loving partner.
Above all, do not compare yourself with any other person but you!
Stay safe, and have a Happy self-love day!
Donate to the Domestic Violence, Trauma, and Mental Health Center here: https://donorbox.org/giving-tuesday-now-ncdvtmh