Home > Healing Journey, Uncategorized > From Victim to Survivor to Thriver

From Victim to Survivor to Thriver

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I’ve always hated the word ‘survivor.’ So often it has been used as a cliche that implies that the pain is now over. You’ve survived a car crash. You’ve survived cancer. You’ve survived abuse. I’ve always felt that it does injustice to the pain and suffering that an abuse survivor has endured and the continuing effects of events that are long past but still impact day to day life. For this reason, I have preferred the label ‘victim’. Some people can get stuck in the ‘victim mentality’ or the ‘poor me syndrome’ which has consequences in how they relate to others, the world and themselves and is not the most healthy way of living. But I think that the label ‘victim’ does not need to hold this negative energy. Another reason why I prefer to use ‘victim’ is that it speaks to my innocence as a child who was hurt by someone in authority over me. Many abuse survivors, including myself, have struggled with guilt and shame, feeling that somehow they were the cause or the one to blame for what was done against them. Many feel that there is something intrinsically wrong with them, that they are bad, that they deserved it. Also, many abuse survivors cope by telling themselves that the abuse didn’t happen or that it wasn’t that bad. ‘Victim’ addresses and validates both of these aspects in my opinion. To me, the word ‘victim’ says that something DID happen, it WAS bad and it is NOT your fault.

People have often employed the word ‘survivor’ because they think it helps people move away from tying their identity to the abuse. But honestly, to speak of yourself as a survivor of abuse also ties your identity to the abuse. When I first left home, I had kept so much secret and hidden from everyone and tried to put on a face of being completely fine when I wasn’t that I never felt known unless people knew my background. Also, I struggled with thinking that the abuse was ALL that I am and that when people thought of me, they thought of me as damaged goods. But over the last year, and particularly in the past few months, I have been coming to the realization that I am more than the abuse was done to me. Yes, it has had a huge impact. The abuse went on for a long time and frequently. The past five years have been focused around a criminal court case dealing with my abuser. For the past eight years, I’ve been working towards healing and recovery. So much of my focus and my identity has been tied to abuse.

The wounds still need healing. The scars that have begun to heal will continue to heal. Did you know that physical scars continue to heal and change the rest of your life? I think it is the same with emotional scars. But, the scars are becoming less noticeable and I am longing to move on, to move forward.

I recently saw the reference to the word ‘Thriver’ as a label for those who have survived victimization as a child. This word stood out to me and I loved this word! I want to be more than a victim or a survivor. I don’t want to simply survive – that is what I have been doing all my life. No – now I want to thrive. And I am.

I am thriving. I will thrive. I have moved from being a victim, to surviving the abuse, to now thriving. I am a thriver. Praise God for the marvelous work he has done in me.

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  1. June 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

    Praise God! I love the way you brought this out, the need to thrive. This was beautifully written. 🙂

  2. June 18, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    thanks so much 🙂

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