There is a belief that you are not a victim of domestic violence unless you are killed by it. There is a political correctness emerging that says we must use the term “survivor” instead of victim.
This attack against the word “victim” comes from an honest place, it comes from a place of encouraging people to accept responsibility for their own actions, instead of blaming someone else for having to face the consequences. Abusers often pretend to be victims to play for pity and support. This works for them, as it turns society against the real victims! This contributes to victim-blaming. The word “victim” is defined as:
- A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, or other event or action; and
- A person who is tricked or duped.
I was a victim of domestic violence. I survived, but my survival does not negate the experience. My strength does not diminish my pain. My courage does not diminish my suffering.
When we deny the victim experience, we are claiming responsibility, at least in part, on the behalf of the victim. When we deny the victim the right to say they were victimized, we are victim-blaming.
One moment that felt like a slap in the face, after I left my husband, was when my mother asked what I had done to contribute to the failure of my marriage. Now, I am not perfect, but I did nothing to contribute to the downfall of my marriage because my marriage ended as a result of domestic violence. I left the first time he hit me. I believe he had changed when I returned. When I started to see patterns of abuse, I confronted him and told him I would leave if it confronted. I left when it escalated, even though it was at Christmas time. My contribution to it marriage falling was that I would not tolerate abuse. I was not responsible for the abuse, I was not responsible for the abuser.
To be a survivor, you must have first experienced an event or action which endangered you. To be a survivor, you must first be a victim. To acknowledge victimization does not nullify the strength if an individual who survived any more than it denies the courage of those who do not survive.
A victim does not choose to be harmed. A victim is a victim solely because of the actions of another individual, it is out of their control. Victims survive.
Stop telling me I am not a victim. I was. I am. Stop telling me to call myself a survivor. I am a survivor, but that is not my whole story.
I was a victim of child abuse. I survived.
I was a victim of dating abuse. I survived.
I was a victim of marital abuse. I survived.
I am a victim of post marital abuse. I will survive.
It is not my fault.