Many people, even those who have survived narcissistic abuse, look down on anyone who uses the term “victim.” It seems to offend some people who survived narcissistic abuse to be referred to as a victim, because they prefer to be called a survivor. Others who haven’t survived narcissistic abuse but still find the term victim offensive seem to look down on anyone who considers herself or himself to be a victim. They obviously associate the term victim with someone who is weak &/or foolish, as if only weak & foolish people can be abused. They also seem to think victims are those who wallow in the pain of their trauma, & never move on. They have PTSD or C-PTSD because they won’t just stop thinking about the trauma. If they’d just stop thinking about it, they’d be fine!
Whatever the motive, many times victims are pushed & even shamed into referring to themselves as survivors & never victims. This can be a problem for victims!
There is absolutely no shame in falling prey to an abusive person. Narcissists are notorious for being phenomenal actors. They can fool anyone no matter how smart or even how much a person may know about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The more you know, naturally the quicker you can catch onto their behavior, but even so, there is a chance you can be fooled briefly. I have been & I’ve been studying narcissism since 2011! Anyway there is truly no shame in being abused. The only shame in any abusive relationship belongs to the abusive person, never their victim.
Also, putting the survivor label on people can make them feel pressured to heal quickly or even get over the abuse entirely (which is unlikely). Rushing healing never works out well. Healing has to be done at its own pace & that pace varies greatly from person to person. Not to mention, most of the time, it’s a life long process. Very few people completely “get over” abuse, especially when there is a history of it such as growing up with abusive parents then dating or marrying abusive partners.
I think a lot of times people put the survivor label on victims to make themselves more comfortable. Maybe it makes them feel that since the person survived, the abuse wasn’t that bad. If it was someone they knew, this can help them feel better about themselves if they did nothing to help the victim. Or, maybe it is spoken out of simple ignorance. They intend to be empowering & comforting yet are unsure how to do it.
As for those who have been abused, I really believe it should be each person’s preference which label they use, so long as each person accepts the fact that they were victims of an abuser & have no shame for that. Removing yourself from the abuse by calling yourself a survivor can be empowering to some people, & that is wonderful. Whatever helps is a good thing!
For myself, I stick with using the term victim. I don’t want to sound like I’m looking for pity or attention, because truly that’s not the case. Instead, by using that term, I’m reminding myself that what happened to me wasn’t my fault. I was innocent & did nothing to deserve the abuse. This helps me because my abusers blamed me for their bad behavior. Even years after, I have moments of slipping back into wondering what I did wrong to make them treat me the way they did. Thankfully, those moments don’t last long, but they do happen. Referring to myself as a victim is a little reminder every time I say or write it that what they did to me was their fault, not mine.
However you choose to refer to yourself is up to you. But please, whether you prefer the term victim or survivor, let it be your choice. Don’t let anyone pressure you into referring to yourself in a way that you don’t feel comfortable with.