Good afternoon, Dear Readers!
I was reading something yesterday that said something like (I forget the exact wording), “You’re not a victim- you’re a survivor!” Although that sounds great at first read, I think it also can be a shaming message.
First of all, if you’ve been abused, you are a victim. Period. Nothing can change that. There is no shame in being a victim. The shame belongs to the abuser, not the victim who had no say in being abused.
Second, you always will be a victim of the abuse. That doesn’t mean you spend every waking moment thinking or talking about the abuse- it simply means that something terrible happened to you. You were a victim of someone else’s cruelty & bad choices through no fault of your own.
Third, the message that I have felt from such quotations is that you are to be strong, & don’t let what happened affect you anymore. Well, that isn’t very realistic! If you have survived abuse in any form, especially ongoing abuse such as at the hand of a parent or spouse, it always will affect you to some degree. You may be living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & barely functioning each day, or you may function well, but be very cynical in how you judge people, or somewhere in between, but you will be affected in some way, shape or form by what happened. No one escapes abuse unscathed.
What I am trying to say is be balanced in how you view yourself. While yes, you are a victim, you have survived, & hopefully thrived. Even so, there may be some bad days where you feel more like a victim than a survivor, & that is OK! It happens to everyone, & is a natural effect of living through abuse. You can’t feel like a tough survivor every single day.
Personally, I prefer to use the term “conquerer.” A conquerer is strong, which is what survivors of abuse are as well. We find the strength to escape the abuse, then to heal, often with little or no support from others. Sometimes, it takes every ounce of strength we can muster to get out of bed in the morning, but somehow we find that strength & do it anyway. We resist the inclination to become bitter, uncaring or even abusive, & are loving to others as well- that takes a great deal of strength & courage. (So many abusers were abused themselves, yet didn’t have the strength to break that cycle.) Conquerers are also imperfect. While great conquerors have won many battles, they also lost many, many soldiers in these battles. They also made very serious mistakes, some even leading to their downfalls. Yet, they remained passionate fighters. If these phrases don’t describe someone who has survived abuse & is fighting to heal, I don’t know what would.
I would like to encourage you today to think about how you view yourself.