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On being a victim...
Posted 12 November 2003 - 04:44 PM
I struggle with the victim/survivor thing. I had a very good friend of mine, sober 10 years in AA, suggest to me that instead of either I was "in survival" like he's "in recovery." It's not quite something I'll ever accomplish - survivor - but I can live into it.
Posted 12 November 2003 - 05:18 PM
I guess they can make out of that whatever they chose. I don't walk around with a S for "survivior" or a V for "victim" on my sleeve.
I think the child I was is a victim, and even though I may eventually heal (which is another very vaugue term if you ask me, which we could do an entire thread on..) I think I will always think of that child as a victim... there was nothing that she did to fight back, but I don't blame her, and looking realistically (which is soo soo hard) there is nothing she could have done to stop them.
okay... enough talking about things in third person...
I dunno, I guess thats my two cents... although I don't know if I answered the original question...
Posted 12 November 2003 - 09:56 PM
Agreed utterly, sisters - though I think there's another side and you doubtless know it - I do think it's neccessary to be careful of not wanting to be seen to be a victim; for example I struggle with allowing vulnerability space; on-going PTSD stuff makes me feel victimized and I get scared of telling how I feel lest people should think I'm "playing the victim".
At these times, I need to remind myself that being honest about one's pain isn't the same as whining and asking other people to take responsibility. Asking for help is part of actively seeking to move forward. While I trust and tell, it doesn't mean I cease to be engaged in fighting my own fight.
Now, where am I at with being a vicitim?
Sometimes I still get caught up in begrudging the fact that I have occassional but fuck-horrible attacks of PTSD around my physically and sexually violent relationship - it shits me that he's free to go on with his sorry ass life while I still jump at noises.
Then I remember that his IS a sorry-ass life, with none of the strength, love and integrity that I have.
As well, I do sometimes regret things - I wonder what would have become of a creative, beautiful child called Louise if she hadn't been battered and sexually abused since the year dot, and forged her personality around a core of self-hatred.
Then I remember that what actually DID become of her is damn good enough - she came to hate injustice and to fight it, and she never stopped appreciating the beauty that the world offers alongside the crap.
Sometimes I still have days where I wish I could seek refuge in my room and stay there...because I feel like I don't want to have to keep striving.
Then I remember that I have only one life, and by hell, it's mine to make sure it's a good one. What happened to me wasn't my fault. That it affected me isn't my fault and sucks sometimes. But how I respond to it - that's up to me. If I lose my way, I'm blessed with having good friends in rl and here that I can ask to walk with me awhile as I sort myself out, and I doubt I would be where I am without their love, kindness, wisdom and positive view of me that isn't always mine. But nobody will do it for me.
I was a victim...it wasn't my fault. But I also became a very defiant woman, and I refuse to be held back.
(((((((((All brothers and sisters, wherever you are)))))))))
Posted 12 November 2003 - 10:18 PM
i was furious at the rapist (i dont call him my r) because what he did forced me onto this path. and then i decided that i was not forced onto any healing path, i was going to instead choose what i wanted and set a goal. so i decided that i was going to use this opportunity to learn how to love me and take good care of me.
that made this not about him, and all about me. and it seemed to change everything for me. it seemed to open up doors and light and goodness to come into my life.
i also think a significant thing i did was to tell him he to take that look that was on his face back, and take that moment back, because i was done with it, and it was not mine. i suspect that in abuse in the past, what i saw as the victim in that moment was the look on the abusers' faces, and looking into their eyes as they made evil choices, and that look horrified me. for me, much of the shame and ugliness and horror that i thought was in myself was actually that picture of the shame and ugliness and horror of the abuser him/herself. and i began to let go of those images, and realize they are Not Me.
he made that choice, Not Me. and despite what evil he was capable of, i am going to love myself like i have never loved myself before. i am going to take care of myself. i am going to make this life worth living since i chose to live. i will not regret that choice.
Posted 12 November 2003 - 07:21 AM
I think it's really hard to take responsibility for fixing all of the problems that are caused by being victimized, especially because sexual violence, and its aftermath, makes you feel so powerless.
However, you are completely right that, in order to survive and not be completely insane and miserable, you eventually have to take responsibility for your own actions. Sometimes, when there are secondary issues such as eating disorders, or addiction, that is a lot to ask. It is an uphill and seemingly impossible battle. But the alternative sucks more - revictimizing yourself for the rest of your life is no way to live.
To specifically answer your question, I think that I'm at the point that I can recognize everything I just wrote, but still get caught up in "why the fuck do I have to deal with this shit - I don't want to - I guess I'll go eat worms" stuff a lot of the time. :)/>
Posted 11 November 2003 - 10:59 PM
I really feel like in order to get through my own process I need to be as positive and strength focused as possible. I don't want to bemoan what might have been or how much time I spend in therapy or how I've mistreated myself as a result of being abused and raped. I see no value in spending my time that way. I may not have caused all of my own problems, but I'm responsible for fixing them anyway and moaning about it won't help me fix anything. I can't go back and change anything. It's happened. Childhood was horrific, being stalked and raped terrifying...I can't change it, but I can take control over today and make the rest of my life the best it can possibly be. I can learn, integrate it, grow and move forward.
Where do you think you are in this process?
Posted 11 November 2003 - 11:58 PM
Posted 13 November 2003 - 12:49 PM
That is absolutely beautiful. You eloquently and clearly capture the concept of taking responsibility for one's own life... taking the challenges and growing, moving forward, building a life worth living that you can enjoy and thrive in. Keep kicking! May you capture all the peace and love there is :)/>
Take gentle care, Rain
Posted 12 November 2003 - 10:19 AM
I find "victim" distasteful because of the implication of helplessness (and even to type the word "helpless" still evokes a painful mental image and watery eyes), yet right now (6 months later) I feel more like a victim than a "survivor" because the aftermath seems to dictate more of my life (my thoughts, my dreams, how I spend my time, how I interact (or don't...) with people, etc.) than I do consciously.
I find "survivor" distasteful because that seems to me to imply a level of healing and recovery that I've not yet achieved, a certain element of placing the rape in the past, and for me it is still very much present.
So I choose to use neither word. I'm neither a victim nor a survivor... just a woman who was raped by two men at knifepoint.
Posted 16 November 2003 - 07:12 PM
I really love this concept. It's so easy to get paralyzed by your problems, but I think if you always keep this in mind, you will keep making progress.
Posted 16 November 2003 - 09:38 PM
It really is a choice to start healing, despite the fact that you've been given no choice, isn't it?
Thanks, Rain, for starting this thread.
Posted 17 November 2003 - 08:57 AM
It is so wonderful to see you here again. You have been missed sweetheart.
Again, I am going to answer without reading responses (because I really should be working).
For me, recognizing that I was indeed at some point a victim was actually crucial for me to move forward. You see, for years and years I was minimized and invalidated and therefore did not even realize I was in fact a victim! So, when I started having flashbacks of my attempted rape, I did some research (which eventually led me here to Pandoras) and I found out that what happened to me was a crime! Somehow, I didn't even realize that. So, after 14 years, I officially became a victim.
I needed to be that victim for awhile. To me, it meant that what happened was real, it was a big deal, it mattered etc. I learned a lot of things about what I had gone through, what I had felt, what I was feeling. I started therapy. At that point, I decided that if I was going to do this, I had to leave that temporary status of being a victim and start being a survivor. I didn't realize until recently that I had been that survivor all along.
I know that many many people hate the word victim, don't like to be called a victim etc. For me, it was a necessity. But, it was only a temporary necessity. Once I realized that I was experiencing PTSD, felt the same emotions as so many people here, etc I was able to start the process of moving out of "victimhood". It was really when I started getting the validation I needed that I was able to start moving forward.
Granted, my situation may be different because my experiences were a long time ago. I won't lie and say that issues don't pop up for me now and again but the difference is that I don't go all the way back to where I was almost 2 years ago when I came here. If something new comes up, I may think "well, dammit I thought I was through this" but I don't feel the need to go all the way back to where I was.
Anyway, Rain, I don't know if this had anything to do with what you were asking but it is what came to mind when I read your post.
Posted 17 November 2003 - 09:30 AM
I just thought some clarification might help.
Posted 17 November 2003 - 09:52 AM
I would have argued that there was no choice at a time, when I was living as a victim. I would have vehemently asserted that I could not heal yet. I was just lying to myself…I could have broken out much earlier, but I chose not to. I needed something out of my depression. I got comfortable in it. And I regret it so much sometimes – I willingly gave more than a year of my life to victim-hood. I wasn’t ready, but I didn’t push myself to be ready either. I didn’t even give the survivor in me a chance. That was entirely my choice.
I used to fucking hate it when someone would point out to me that I was making a choice to stay a victim. What did they know? It's funny that I see now that they were right.
There is nothing wrong with me taking my time in healing – it was part of the process. But that day when I “woke up” and got help gave me a new view of my past, and forced me to accept my own role in my pain. It’s a lot harder to take the steps to heal than it is to lie in it.
I have more clarity now than I did then, and I think I can evaluate things more effectively. I certainly needed some time to cry and heal – that is being a survivor. Being a victim for me started when I had a choice to get better and didn’t take it. When the wound was fresh (regardless of when the abuse occurred – what matters is when you start to deal with it), I was surviving by letting it heal. Once it was healed and scarred, and I didn’t make a choice to survive, I let myself be a victim. Recognizing that was the one of the most important things I’ve done.
(this is just my story and my opinion. i dont hold it to be the truth, just my truth).
Posted 17 November 2003 - 10:09 AM
Personally, I am doing everything that I am able to do to at the moment (therapy, drugs, being here, whatever) to work through what happened, but I still feel much more like a "victim" than a "survivor", and I do NOT feel as if I have ANY choice in how I feel from day to day. I'm pretty ^&@$! lucky to even be able to identify HOW I feel on any given day. I do the best I can, but it's hurtful to hear someone try to tell me that I DO have a choice. Talk to me in another six months and you *might* have an argument, but not right now.