All my life, I have hated certain words. (Some of these include racial slurs, swear words, etc.)
However, the one that I hated the most was victim.
A lot of that hatred came from the fact that I had a lot of unfortunate experiences happen to me starting at a young age including sexual abuse, severe depression, and domestic violence. However, I always thought of myself as a survivor. Even when I shared my history with others, I was quick to point out that I was “over” what had happened to me and that I was a survivor and never the dreaded v word.
If only that had really been true.
The fact is, I talked a good talk, but I was not over a lot of stuff.
I was so worried that I would look self-pitying or in need for sympathy that I convinced myself I was some sort of superwoman.
My act was so convincing that I had even convinced myself for a while. However, I kept wondering why certain patterns and things keep occurring in my life. For example, why did I have so many triggers? Why was I still ending up in unhealthy relationships and repeating old patterns?
The truth is, I wasn’t over a lot things…not even a little in some cases.
It wasn’t until one day when I sought out a therapist trained specifically to work with those who had experienced trauma that I had an epiphany: I had been the victim of many unfortunate things and admitting that did not make me weak, self-pitying, or pathetic.
Acknowledging that I had been a victim allowed me to give myself the much needed permission to get angry, mourn and after a time, really move on. It was only when I had actually done the first two that I could do the third and know what it really meant to be a survivor.
Granted, it wasn’t an easy process. The first thing I had to do was get over the stigma of the word “victim.”
It isn’t a word that a lot of people like to use, much less apply to themselves. As a fellow domestic abuse survivor once said, “I hate that word, because I always think of crime dramas and how it usually refers to someone who is dead. It’s just sounds too final.”
However, it need not be that way.
It also need not be thought of a stationary word.
I am on a personal mission to reclaim that word and let others know it’s okay to admit that we’ve been victims and how in doing so, it can help us become true survivors.
I tell myself that, too, and more importantly, I believe it.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Renée Picard