Why Does “Victim” Have to Be a Bad Word?

I read an interesting post by Marcella at abyss2hope called “Victim vs. Being Multifaceted Human Beings.” I encourage you to check it out. This is such an important topic. (I wrote about it a while back in my post “But I Don’t Want to Be a Victim…”)

As victims/survivors, we get so many mixed messages from those around us. Our lawyer wants us to fully occupy and identify with our role as the victim of a crime so that he can more successfully handle our case, while friends and family may be encouraging us to let go of our “victimhood,” be strong, pick ourselves up, and “move on.” How confusing to be in the middle of that! Especially right after trauma, when we ourselves may still be trying to figure out what happened to us.

People may mean well when they try to deny that we were victims of violence or abuse or when they diminish the situation, but in fact, they are just adding to the trauma. They turn “victim” into a bad word. When that happens, how can we acknowledge the truth of our situations? We were victims. Why do we have to be ashamed of it? The shame of the trauma itself may be bad enough, but when those around us add to that shame, recovery becomes that much more difficult.

It’s a tricky situation. How do we acknowledge and validate our experience without being consumed by it? Can we be victims without being judged by others—or ourselves—and found wanting?

Our path to healing and “survivorhood” lies in full acknowledgment and acceptance of what happened. Denial gets us nowhere (except, possibly, into another bad situation, if we put blinders on and refuse to deal with our reality).

May we all have the support we need to move through our traumas and into a future free from shame.

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