November 28, 2014

How Admitting We’ve Been Victims can Help Us Be Survivors.

Certain Sadness / Allen Berame

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.”

I understand.

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.



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Author: Kimberly Lo 

Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: Allen Berame at Pixoto 

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