Victim, Survivor, or Both?Pin

Victim, Survivor, or Both?

I found an interesting read this week by Rebecca Upton in which she laments that we’ve somehow moved from talking about victims to survivors and why she’s not a fan:

“Survivor” doesn’t always feel right. It minimizes what happened. It makes it like I am resilient for surviving and my resilience is inspirational. But I never wanted to have to be resilient or be an inspiration. Before I ever experienced abuse, I was just a teenager. I wanted to be cool, likable, a good person, funny, smart. Things any teenager wants to be. And I guess I was. But this additional label – of a “survivor” – was forced on me. Because I didn’t want any of this. I was just a victim of it.

Of course, she’s correct. None of us asked to be some sort of survivor hero. I commented on her piece because, if you’re paying attention, I use the word survivor right here in the title and domain name for this blog. I recalled trying to make a choice between the two terms and leveraging the literal definition – “a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.”

I read that and thought it fit exactly what I wanted this blog to be. Someone who was abused as a child and remained. Just like all of you reading who were abused and are still here.

That’s why when anyone asks me for my mantra, etc. my response ios always “I’m still here.”.

I say that because that’s how I feel about abuse and trauma. It happened and I’m still here. I won’t promise that I’m always feeling great, I’m definitely not always positive. I have good days and bad days. You won’t catch me claiming that my abuse made me something that I’m not and I most definitely will not be looking for any sort of hero status for surviving abuse. What I did promise then, and continue to promise today, is that I’m here, and you’re here, and so we are not alone.

That’s all. but it’s also powerful.

Rebecca’s post got me thinking about the word victim though.

I agree that we’ve stigmatized that term. It’s everything negative about trauma. Survivors move forward, victims wallow. We hear all the time that we can’t heal while seeing ourselves as victims. Strip all of that away though, and Rebecca is 100% right, we are all victims. We didn’t survive abuse of our own doing. Someone else victimized us. In literal definition world – “a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.”

We are survivors because we are still here. We are victims because someone harmed us while committing a crime. There’s no reason to complicate those terms and there’s no reason any of us who experienced abuse can’t be both.


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