When I was a teenager I was molested following years of grooming.
It was one incident that derailed my thinking and self-image so dramatically that I carried the damage into my choices and behavior in all life domains from personal to professional.
This, in turn, affected how I moved forward in my life and future.
Over the years, I’ve heard the term victim being exchanged for survivor. The intent is well meaning. I know it’s meant to be empowering.
But I’m a writer and I can’t help but analyze words.
For me, rewriting victim in exchange for survivor denies my right experience and its effects on the person I am today. I was a victim. That fact hasn’t changed. But I’m also a survivor. Both matter to me.
Depending on the long-term effects of trauma, you can still be coping and be a “victim” who, at the same time, is a strong, determined survivor.
I’ve had countless years of therapy. My life was spent “overcoming”.
Today I no longer feel like a victim, nor do I act like one. But being a victim isn’t in the past. It’s part of who I’ve become and why I’ve become the person I am.
It’s the reason why I have the empathy, intuition, a richness of spirit and defiance.
This is such a personal position. What’s yours?
I fully support you being the one that gets to choose how you are described, as you are the one that lived it!
Thank you for sharing your horrible, unacceptable experience. I am so sorry you went through this. Grooming is such a sickening act and no one should have to go through it. Anyone who does should also be able to talk about and identify with whatever terms feel most appropriate to them. I don’t have anything pithy or insightful to offer, only that I’m so sorry, such an incomplete word to use to encompass what you went through - horrified and saddened for you. But you define you and your experiences and only you should choose how that looks. People prescribing their idea of what’s the right way to discuss something so deeply personal removes ownership from the only person with the right to decide how to talk about their experiences and what they mean and meant. My heart goes out to you and my blood boils at the monster who violated you. And now I’m mindful that my words might be wrong, but I hope you grasp my sentiments and that I’m wholly on your side.
What a lovely response, thank you. It was a difficulty journey, to be sure. Bur we all have our challenges. I’m just so grateful for the help I received because, all of it together, helped me become who I am now. Plus I get to help others! Anyway, thank you so much.
Thank you for sharing such a personal and difficult experience. It saddens me to hear and know so many women I know have stories like yours where they were groomed and assaulted at a young age. And I am one who believes in the strength in words and how they can hold power - to harm or to empower. So I believe each person should be able to choose for themselves the right words to tell their story - a story that belongs to them only and is in their words. Some may choose one term over another, or some may choose both. And that should left up to them.
Yes, thank you. Well said. In our desire to empower someone, we may be shutting down their truth.
Wow thanks for sharing. So incredibly awesome that you’e been able to process and overcome. Interesting take on the wording of “victim”. We do use it very casually these days.
Thanks Jade. This thread was brought on by something posted on your Facebook page about “rewriting” history. I would bristle when someone would shut me down and say, “You’re not a victim, you’re a survivor” in order to empower me. I never felt that being a victim made me powerless. It made me find other strengths.