October is quickly approaching! For many of our Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners and staff, Halloween is their favorite holiday. Ironically enough, it's also the holiday that marks the end of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In 2019 alone, we served 171 victims of domestic violence in Albuquerque. Many of the patients who came to see us were also parents whose children had witnessed the violence. After the restraining order was granted, the forensic evidence collected, and the exam completed, many of those patients still had numerous questions lingering in their mind: how do I make sure my child is going to be okay? How do I make them feel safe again? What am I going to do about Halloween?
For many victims, these questions not only revolve around re-establishing their child's safety, but also recreating a sense of normalcy for them. Whether this was dropping them off at school or even relocating to a safer place, topics like the holidays often cause a headache for victims, particularly this holiday. With all of Halloween's crowded streets, costumes, and strangers in masks, trick-or-treating with children can seem like a daunting task. Not only does the holiday present what can seem like a "logistical nightmare" for people trying to stay hidden from their abuser, but it also forces many to feel like they are depriving their child of a fun holiday activity should they chose not to leave the house. On one hand, victims want to protect their children against possible retaliation from their abuser; but on the other, they don't want to sacrifice what they feel is an integral part of their childhood.
Well, ABQ SANE is here to say that both are possible! And that trick-or-treating with your child after surviving domestic violence shouldn't be a predicament. Halloween safety for our patients is an utmost priority, and we have put together a handy guide for anyone considering trick-or-treating with their children. Empowering our patients after their assault is not only one of our core missions, but it is also a duty that we don't take lightly. It was an honor to put together this guide, and from us to you, we wish you a safe Halloween.