I am reposting this article that I wrote in 2015 because it helped many survivors of abuse back then. I hope it does the same thing for those who need it, right here, right now.
This has bothered me for a long time – the use of the term ‘survivor’ for victims of all types of abuse. It hasn’t bothered me enough to stop using it, but I aim to avoid it. I think it places the focus on survival – just existing, putting one foot in front of the other, functioning like a robot. Of course, this is what is required when you are experiencing the trauma and when you are re-experiencing it during P.T.S.D. (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) but why continue to identify with it outside of these phases in your life?
Some argue that it is a more empowering term than ‘victim’ but…when you were victimized you were in survival mode so, it is two sides of the same coin. Then, you end up having the repetitive experience of the three f’s of survival: fight, flight, freeze. Most people cannot fight or run away when they’re being victimized so they freeze (I associate this with out-of-body-experiences). These behaviors become hard-wired into the mind/body and are repeated whenever you are in the same, or, a similar situation. Human beings already have these built-in survival mechanisms which is amazing as it guarantees self-preservation, in most instances. However, to continue ‘living’ in such a way, is not living at all. Continuing to use the word ‘survivor’ further reinforces this, which then creates that type of existence.
The only way out is to heal and this begins in earnest during P.T.S.D. which can be – and often is – experienced several times in your lifetime. There is usually one phase that is the worst where you can undergo profound healing. When this is over with, then what?
I have heard the term ‘thriver’ being bandied about and, yes, I like it. It conjures up images of doing well in every facet of life – progressing in leaps and bounds. However, I prefer to think of myself as being the creator of my life (alongside the Creator of All Life). I don’t think there’s anything more empowering than that, especially since there was such disempowerment during the victimization. That is, there was no opportunity to make decisions and take actions that allowed for the shaping of a worthwhile and joyful life.
I found this on the Internet recently – it encapsulates what I’m trying to say here in a brilliantly succinct manner:
If you can’t read
the book you want
you gotta write it.
If you can’t find
you have to
There is no other way.
You are your way.
And your life.
You’re not a victim.
Not even a survivor.
You’re a creator.
Happy Healing and Creating!