Victim Yes, Survivor, Definitely!

vic·tim/ˈviktəm/Noun

  1. A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
  1. 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 

  1. To remain alive or in existence.
  2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.
  3. 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.

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash

 

 

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31 thoughts on “Victim Yes, Survivor, Definitely!

  1. Thank You so much. … Understanding how abusers are only able to keep us under the term until we unmasks their ill-willed intentions, secrets, etc is a powerful piece in breaking their power. Finding strength when there seems to be none is what makes a survivor, a survivor! I just love your insight here! Thank You!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate the stance you take on the word victim here. Understanding how abusers are only able to keep us under the term until we unmasks their ill-willed intentions, secrets, etc is a powerful piece in breaking their power. Finding strength when there seems to be none is what makes a survivor, a survivor! I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, but it reads very close to my own story. I know the strength it takes to move past this kind of violence, so I appreciate your voice for it. ❤ Beautiful read.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sister Survivor, I understand the pain only too well. As a severely neglected child fashioned to believe abuse was “normal”, it is only in the latter part of life, I learned it is not something to accept. I am worthy of respect, love, and honesty.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Im so sorry your abusers continue to treat you this way and take away (among other things) your feeling of safety, and your truth at every possible turn. Im sending you huge supportive hugs. I know that someday, maybe very soon, you’ll get to use the words that you want to use to describe how you are healing. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate the word victim. Hate it. It has been used to describe me along with all the other controlling and manipulating words…insane, crazy, over reactive, dramatic, liar, troublemaker, and I’m the one who is the terrorist with my thoughts and behavior when I try to confront, fight back, and separate. Stop being a victim, I’m told. There is nothing wrong with your life. You are imagining things. Why do you hate us? You are so ungrateful. We have made so many sacrifices for you. We don’t talk about those things. We will hurt you if you tell. I will kill you if you move. You will obey or pay the price. They leave messages daily to keep me unstable. A card in the mail. Symbolic flowers left in random places. A phone call. A text. A package. An email. A piercing stare at the grocery store with no words said. And survivor feels contentious and proud. I wrestle the messages ingrained in my brain. I am weak. I have no power. I cannot exist outside. I will never make it. How do I stop the cycle of the programming, the brainwashing, the training? I don’t want to be a victim…the way they describe me as one. I also don’t want to be a survivor…the way they describe me as one. They have tortured from every perspective to assure I will never feel safe or free.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Just love your comments. Yep, the lies the perpetrators tell our soul; When we forgive ourselves for believing them, then it takes the power away from them and we not only survive, we thrive. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Love this! It is when we dispense with the lies that have been perpetrated on us and begin to remember, once again, who we really are at our core, that we switch and move from the victim mentality to that of the survivor. What a difference it makes when we acknowledge the truth in ourselves.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Powerfully written.
    I was also told in therapy that it’s very common for survivors of trauma to apportion blame to themselves, it’s good that the professionals are giving the same message!
    Keep speaking up and keep surviving x

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Pingback: Victim Yes, Survivor, Definitely! | Success Inspirers World

  10. I really get this- have never liked the word victim, as it has connotations of allowing something to be “done” to you.
    I like survivor much better, as it is you “choosing” or making the decision yourself to reach up and out to get better.
    Great post!

    Liked by 4 people

  11. This was a really powerful post… I can’t think of a response but want to say so much! 😶
    A survivor – a person who has been through it & can help other victims survive too… I’ll leave it there ❤

    Liked by 3 people

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