Dealing with Past Trauma on Father’s Day

Father's Day

Written by Lauren’s Kids and Dr. Tara Zuckerman, PsyD

As survivors, we know that sometimes holidays can suck. They may bring up past trauma and contribute to our feelings of “otherness” – while everyone else (it seems) is posting happy, carefree, loving photos with their families, we cannot or do not want to…it’s simply a painful reminder of the abuse and trauma we’ve endured.

We know that 90% of sexual abuse occurs at the hands of a loved one. For all too many, this loved one was a father or paternal figure. As a result, many survivors experience feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and anger- emotions very difficult to navigate and share with others. Like many people, survivors may have a hard time accessing or acknowledging such feelings, because they are uncomfortable and may become overwhelming or uncontrollable.

Father’s Day can be an especially difficult day for many of us, especially for those who have strained relationship(s) with their own fathers or paternal figures.  For those survivors who’s perpetrators were their fathers, this can be a particularly challenging day where it seems like everyone else is proclaiming paternal love and they may be faced with having to “celebrate” or acknowledge this person who caused them so much pain.

With Father’s Day around the corner, it is important to remember that it is OK to honor your feelings, and that you are not alone in your experiences. Take the opportunity to be kind to yourself and practice self-care. We’ve suggested some tips and ideas below:


  1. Unplug
    1. Get off social media for the day – step away from your news feed and the barrage of photos that may make you feel triggered or lonely
  2. Honor that this day may be hard for you
    1. Tell yourself “it’s ok” that this day may be difficult and different for you than from others
  3. Remind yourself that you are not alone
    1. Many people are impacted by Fathers Day, and may be disconnected from paternal figures
    2. You have friends and family who love and care about you
  4. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people
    1. Reach out to close friends or family members, spend some time with those that are there for you and you can feel comfortable being around
  5. Do something new
    1. Whether its going to the movies, trying out a new activity, or eating at a new restaurant- do something that is new and different