Don’t Be Too Quick To Label “Survivors”

Among those who write about abuse, many are quick to label those who have experienced abuse as “survivors.”  The term is meant to be empowering, reminding people of how far they have come, & what they survived.  While the term survivor can do this for many people, it also can be shaming to others.


Some people, especially those who have only recently learned they were abused, may feel ashamed because they feel they should be “over it” by now or at least further along in their healing.  Those who haven’t got the luxury of a good support system also may be subject to shame by the term survivor.  But, almost anyone who has been abused can feel at least some shame when hearing that term.  There is such a pressure to get over things these days, even by the most well meaning (yet clueless) people.  Not “getting over” something fast enough for someone’s liking can make anyone feel ashamed.


Personally, I think everyone has the right to label themselves however works for them.  If you are empowered by “survivor”, then by all means, call yourself one & do it proudly!  If you aren’t, that is nothing to be ashamed of.  Everyone is different.  There is no shame in thinking of yourself as a victim.  In fact, that is what I do because it reminds me that what was done to me wasn’t my fault.  I am in no way to blame for the abusive narcissists in my life doing their best to hurt me, however, there are still times I wonder what I did to deserve the things that have been done to me.  Reminding myself I was an innocent victim helps to keep such thoughts to a minimum.  Doing this may not work for everyone, but it works for me.


Whatever people think of you ultimately doesn’t really matter, so please do your best not to be influenced by their opinions.  What God thinks of you, what you think of yourself & what those you love think of you are the only opinions that should count.


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

7 responses to “Don’t Be Too Quick To Label “Survivors”

  1. Neither victim nor survivor seems to fit me. Victim too often denotes weakness and I realize now that I was never weak. And when I hear the word survivor I think of someone who just passively waited for rescue. Again, that doesn’t apply to me. When I think about it I realize that I was fighting every day. Nothing came easy for me; my life was a constant battle for my basic needs: emotional, spiritual, even physical. So I think that the most appropriate word to describe myself is warrior because I was on a battlefield every day for years, alone except for God, fighting against multiple opponents. Now that I no longer have contact with my abusers I have retired from that battlefield. The fight left me battered, bruised, and scarred but I emerged victorious. Now I fight every day to repair the damage and to build a new and better life. Yes, I am a warrior.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. lynettedavis

    I like the term survivor because it reminds me of where I’ve been and what I’ve gone through, lest I forget and let my guard down again. But after reading the above comment, I realize that I was a warrior as well, in a spiritual battle for years. In many respects, I still am. In retrospect though, I think I like the term conqueror–I was a warrior, then a survivor and now I’m on the other side of the fence. But, in my heart, I will always be a survivor.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Don’t Be Too Quick To Label “Survivors” | Memoir Notes

  4. I agree. The best way to know how a person who has experienced abuse is to ask them. I’m guessing the answer may differ from moment. One word I would use for all would be brave, even when they don’t feel brave. Somedays brave is putting one foot in front of the other.

    Liked by 1 person

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