'Tis the Season for victims of abuse, narcissism, and/or sociopathy to be WARY. Holidays are the perfect time for an abuser to act out with impugnity - he/she has the excuse of being stressed, under the proverbial gun, and being financially "strapped." All of these ingredients bake up for serious trouble, to be sure.
In my case, the days preceding whatever event were peppered with a lot of withold/reward episodes, especially with regard to the children. For example, my abuser would say (behind closed doors, of course), "If you don't get your parents to help us pay for Christmas, the kids won't have anything to open!" Or, another favorite was, "You aren't 'authorized' to use the checkbook. I earn the money that goes into that account." Under that directive, we went several Holidays without what I would consider to be a proper Thanksgiving or Christmas meal. I mean, come on! Hot dogs for Christmas? Knowing the numerous facets of abuse finally helped me to recognize what a codependant victim I had become! Spiritual, emotional, physical, sexual, financial, religious, and verbal abuse all have one thing in common: dehumanizing the victim. And, I experienced all of the above symptoms to one degree or another for well over a decade until I realized that I was too fearful to commit suicide, and that I didn't want to murder my abuser and leave my kids without a parent.
"But, what about the children? They shouldn't have to see their father/mother taken off by the cops on Christmas!" is a typical response of denial. Children absorb everything that they are exposed to: music, art, poetry, beatings, verbal abuse, denial, etc. What they observe in their family dynamics is what they will equate to normality. If not for one's Self, the victims of abuse must take a proactive step to safeguard innocent lives that had no choice in whom their parents would be. In addition, a child will recognize that abusive behavior will not be tolerated.
"But, I love him/her and he/she loves me!" is another response that is not only typical, but textbook (my case, included!). No, an abuser does not, DOES NOT, DOES NOT love their victims. The abuser only loves one thing: control, control, and more control over his/her property. And, those qualities that the victims fell in love with never existed - the kind, caring, giving person that seemed to exist was a facade intended to reel in the unsuspecting victim. To the abuser, the victim holds no more meaning than any other object - the victim is equated to property (and, this is NOT flattering, folks), much like a straw that one places in a fast-food drink.
Be aware of the reward/withold tactic. If your partner starts to exhibit a more-than-usual level of glee with regard to your emotional discomfort, be very, very wary - he/she is setting the stage for a round of abuse that could possibly end in violence. If the violence starts, CALL THE COPS! Pack your stuff, your kids' stuff, and call a family member (if your partner hasn't managed to isolate you from them, yet), and get to a safe place, whether it's a friend, family member, or shelter. No matter what promises that the abuser makes in an attempt to draw back his/her victim(s), they must not be taken as bond - I know this from personal experience. Once the victim goes back, the situation may be smooth for a week or month, but once there's an opportunity to further dehumanize and objectify the victim, whatever abuse that the victim was experiencing prior to leaving will become much worse, more violent, and extend to the children (if it hasn't, already). If you are planning on leaving, make your plans in absolute secret and contact your local Social Services office, ASAP (from a pay phone, if necessary) - they will be able to direct you to safe housing, employment opportunities, and priceless counseling. They will also be able to put you in contact with Legal Aid and/or attorneys that specialize in abuse cases. The abuse counselors will be able to prepare the survivor for what they can expect from the abuser and how to prepare.
Best wishes of the Season to all out there, particularly those who are living in fear, misery, and hopelessness. There is a better space of peace and self-assurance, and ridding myself of the denial was the first step to surviving and healing. God bless!