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Victim or survivor?

11 Oct

I am a survivor. I was in an abusive relationship for fifteen years. I’ve been raped. I was molested as a child. I have had men, and women, sexually harass me, take advantage of me, and use me. Emotionally. Mentally. Sexually. (Yes, I was sexually abused by women, it happens.)

But you’ll notice the first thing I said about myself. I am a survivor. I am not a victim. I will not let myself be a victim again. I am a survivor, and I am using those experiences to make myself a better person. To step outside my comfort zone and be the best me I can be.

Do I have a lot of mental problems? Yep. Social anxiety, panic attacks, low self esteem. I’ve had depression, and I almost killed myself at the height of that depression.

Why did I almost kill myself? Because at that point in my life I was a victim. I had no control in my life. No options. No way to get out. There was no one there to help me. No one to reach out to.

That’s the problem with being a victim. When you’re in the worst of the worst and everything is piling up on your head you can’t see a way out. You can’t find alternatives. You wait for the knight in shiny armor to come rescue you and he never comes. Some of my favorite books during that time were about girls in bad situations who get rescued by some handsome guy who takes them away to show them the love they always wanted.

It’s a fairy tale. A fantasy. But it’s a hope the victim clings to in order to get through the day. I also clung to religion, and a few other things during that time to give me comfort instead of breaking out of the cycle of abuse.

I finally got out of my bad situation, and I did have a knight in shiny armor who helped me to do it. He didn’t whisk me away to marry me or anything silly like that, but he was a friend who saw me in a horrible situation who offered me a place to go and start a new life. I am forever grateful to him. I always have been. BUT! he is not the reason I started my journey out of being the victim, and on to being the survivor. I did that. I finally figured out that I had some agency, and I could make some choices on my own. I could be myself and live and love and thrive. I just had to get rid of all the bad people in my life and start over. Once I did that my friend was able to come in and give me that extra help to get started in the right direction.

And others have helped me. My boyfriend who pushes me to face my fears, but stands by me when the panic attacks come. My friends who talk with me when my mind won’t let go of a hurt and keeps spinning around in circles. My children who have always looked up to me, and encouraged me to be the best mom I could.

So I can’t be the victim anymore. And I don’t want to encourage others to be victims either. I want to encourage them to lift themselves up out of bad situations and find their own path instead of listening to all the loud voices around them. Those voices, the friends and family around me who kept saying I could fix my marriage, or I should be grateful I had what I had and stop wanting something better…those voices were lying to me. They are lying to you. You can ask for more. You can be treated with respect, and love, and caring. But you won’t get it by being a victim. And you usually won’t get the people who hurt you to admit they did it. You have to learn to find peace with who you are, and be yourself, not who they want you to be.

I guess this desire to stop being a victim and start being the agent of my own life slipped into my writing somewhere. Most of the women I write about are people going through horrible things. The world is falling in around them, and pushing them to go one way, to lay down and take it. But each and every one of them discovers they can’t do that. They have to make choices, they have to fight, they have to push forward.

I like that message. I’m going to keep spreading that message. I hope it influences others in that place of victim-hood to find their own voice and be a survivor instead. To stop believing the lies and start being the writer of their own life story.

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Posted by on October 11, 2016 in On Writing

 

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