Thursday, March 02, 2006

Joanne Speaks Out About Being Called A "Survivor"

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Joanne said...

I personally do not like being referred to as a victim.

While I was being victimized I was a victim. I've moved way beyond that point. I am proud to call myself a SURVIVOR.

I don't want to unite with anyone who still refers to themselves as victim. To me the term is depressing, self-degrading and belittling.

I have no problem associating myself with those who are "SURVIVORS." For them I gain strength and healing.

I don't want someone who is a "victim" to be a mentor for my neshema. I want someone who refers to themselves as survivor -- to me that means the person is someone with strength, determination and power.

A few years ago someone broke into my home in the middle of the night. I was left for dead.

The next day when I came to I was able to pull myself to the phone and call 911. They didn't think I would survive the beating I received due to the amount of blood I lost.

I still have flashbacks of being raped. I still have trouble sleeping at night. I had to sell my home and move to another state, I've also changed my name legally.

I lost a great deal, including the sight in one eye.

The term "SURVIVOR" is NOT an "New Age" thing. It's about the process of healing, and becoming stronger then every.

I am NO victim! I survived. I am a SURVIVOR.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Joanne on this one. She's absolutely correct. If someone refers to me as a "Victim", I take it as an insult.

I am also a SURVIVOR.

March 03, 2006 7:13 AM  
Blogger S.M. said...

While it's wonderful Joanne is ready to call herself a survivor, how is it fair for her to say she refuses to associate with those who refer to themselves as victims?

Honestly, the transition fron victim to survivor is a part of the healing process, and by saying those that refer to themselves as victims is belittling, well, it is -- but that person is only calling themselves a victim because they have not reached the point in their healing journey where they can see themselves as a survivor.

I feel and refer to myself as a survivor... but some days, I feel more like a victim, especially on the days when I feel broken and overcome with flashbacks. I would never refer to a fellow survivor as a victim... but how sad would it be if a fellow survivor rejected me because on a particular day, I saw myself as a victim?

Perhaps the post was worded wrong, and Joanne meant something other than I have read into this post. But I truely hope she doesn't mean to reject fellow survivors who have just not reached a point in healing to call themselves a survivor, instead of a victim.

Take care,
SM

March 07, 2006 11:16 AM  
Anonymous Joanne said...

SM,
I'm tired of being around people who stop striving to heal. I'm tired of people being on the pitty pot.

Maybe I'm tired of seeing a part of myself, that I could easily get into.

When I hang around with people who refer to themselves as victims I go down really fast emotionally. I don't want to go down that dark alley anymore.

I hate flashbacks.
I hate depression.
I hate self-hating, and
I hate self-blaming.
I hate getting into the "poor me" thinking.

I was reading a blog where I think one of the Tendler survivors were talking. I got enraged and wanted to take and shake her out of the "pity pot". I say that because I know what it's like being there, and I also know how hard it is to get off it.

I can only see out of one eye now, but I can see much better then I did before.

March 07, 2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger S.M. said...

Joanne,

You wrote, "I'm tired of being around people who stop striving to heal. I'm tired of people being on the pitty pot."

Ok, I understand that. But I'm still not clear on how someone who may see themselves as a victim fits this classification. See, someone can be striving to heal, not anywhere near the "pitty pot" as you put it, and see themselves as a victim. Why? Because while they are striving to heal, they still have not reached that point in healing where they view themselves as a survivor. Being able to call yourself a survivor is a point a person reaches during healing – not something they can simply decided to declare one day out of the blue. It takes *work* to go from victim to survivor. Someone who still sees themselves as a victim can be working very hard, but just has not yet reached that stage of healing yet... And as survivors, I think it’s important not to judge others based on our own time tables. What takes one survivor a month to reach may take another survivor years. What’s important isn’t *where* they are on the healing path, but that they are *on* that healing path…

Also, what you said about hating flashbacks, depression, etc. I think that every person who suffers from any of these things hates them. I don’t think one person would say they enjoy it. I hate flashbacks with a passion. I do whatever I can to make them stop when them intrude, go away, whatever I need. But PTSD isn’t a “way of life”… it’s a mental illness. It’s not something I choose, it something that was given to me, courtesy of those who abused me.

I get flashbacks, often. I go in and out of depression, and self-hating moods of thinking. I definitely feel self-blame, often. But none of that puts me into that last category you list, the “poor me” thinking. And none of that makes me a victim. I see myself as a full fledged survivor, working her way out from the mountain that was thrown on top of me when I wasn’t even old enough to defend myself. Self-blaming is a *part* of the healing process – blaming one’s self is a way of taking control of what happened. Depression is a part of the healing process – one must grieve the injury before one can leave it behind. Self-hatred is often part of the healing process – often, especially when the sexual abuse came at an early age, before a survivor can learn to feel anger towards the abuse, they first learn to feel anger towards themselves. It’s not fair – but that is how it often works. Because anger for that survivor was a threat as a child, and only now is it even an emotion that has a possibility of existing. Many survivors have to *learn* how to feel anger and then how to feel it towards the right people – that doesn’t happen over night.

I consider myself an empowered woman. I’m a feminist. I believe in standing up and saying something. In my real life, I make my living writing literature to empower people to fight back, stand up for their rights, and not silently suffer. I am a survivor. But I also have PTSD. I was wounded deeply, that is just true. Just because I call myself a survivor doesn’t mean I’m without flashbacks or pain. Just because I feel like a survivor today, doesn’t mean tomorrow I won’t feel more like a victim. Survivors from car wrecks don’t just walk away. They have aches and pains, and they often need therapy to get healthy again. There are days when therapy hurts, and there are days when things are looking good. It’s a cycle, and just because *today* things look awesome, doesn’t mean tomorrow things won’t look dark again.

What I think you mean is you are not interested in those that are sitting on their bottoms, not making any efforts towards healing. This is *not* the same as a person who is seeing themselves as a victim. It’s just not necessarily the same boat.


I'm not saying therefore you should go out and read blogs or hang out with people who pull you down. Of course not. If you can’t keep your feelings in check within when reading survivor’s blogs who have not reached your level of healing, then by all means – don’t read them.

All I'm saying is that by putting these people down the way you have in this essay, you could cause secondary wounding. Someone who is *just* pulling out of the darkness doesn't need to be called weak by those who have managed to climb out already. I just don't think it's fair. And, I think it’s harmful, not helpful.

Take care,

SM

March 09, 2006 1:50 PM  

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