- A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
- A person who is tricked or duped
I don’t like it, but by definition, I was a victim. From the earliest of ages until I was twenty years old, I lived a life of unimaginable abuse, neglect, and terror. For years, I was threatened to stay silent or suffer the consequences. The message was always a simple phone call with a person on the other end saying, “Nothing has changed.”
My therapist worked hard to teach me that one of the nuances of a traumatized person is that they believe that they are somehow to blame for what happened to them. Whether it is the abuser’s message or a way for a person to try and make sense of what has happened to them, it is something that people who have been through trauma have in common.
The word “victim,” can be rather stigmatizing. It’s sometimes bantered about when we talk about someone who won’t or chooses not to change their situation. How many times do we hear someone saying, “she/he’s such a victim.” It can be confusing, because we don’t want to be a victim by an abuser, and we don’t want to be a victim by not standing up for ourselves. Two very different situations, but still the same word.
I understand I was a victim. I understand how my many perpetrators victimized me. I have let go of the false belief that I had been a willing participant in the events that happened to me. This knowledge doesn’t take away the facts of what happened or the feelings that go along with what happened, but it does assuage the guilt.
I was programmed (for lack of a better word) to hurt myself should I remember, tell and/or try to heal from all that was done to me. “They” were thorough in ways to protect themselves and make themselves untouchable. I know and accept that I was a victim of extreme and senseless abuse, neglect, and torture.
sur·vi·vor /sərˈvīvər/ noun
- To remain alive or in existence.
- To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
- To cope with (a trauma or setback); persevere after: survived child abuse.
However, they could not touch the core of who I am and my innate need to remember and heal. They could not anticipate that I would eventually figure out the more I stayed silent and crouched in terror, that I was only protecting them.
They never realized that I would learn that when I began to talk, I was safer because if I were to suffer the consequences that they had threatened me with, then it would only bring to light that what I was saying was the truth. They could no longer hide in the shadows of my mind and strike.
My perpetrators can write me off as a liar and/or crazy, but that doesn’t have any effect on me. I know my truth, and being called crazy is just sticks and stones.
So yes, I was a victim, Now I am definitely a survivor!
Excerpt from my new book: If I Could Tell You How It Feels, available in both ebook and paperback from Amazon.