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Never Call Me Victim

I am a survivor.

Don't bother to berate me into trying to use the word victim.

I was 13...got that...13 years old. I was raped. When I had the audacity to fight back...I was beaten unconcsious. I was unconcsious for more than two days. In thehospital several more. And home on bed rest until I could walk, and talk and eat solid food.

Broken jaw, broken ribs,broken orbital, broken cheek bone, concussion, internal bruising, black eyes, broken teeth, bruising, cuts and abrasions all over my MIGHTY 87 pound frame.

I knew my attacker.

I knew my attacker's family. So did the police, and Dr., and my parents.

End result...nothing happened, "Nothing really happened", "boys will be boys", "She must have just gotten in over her head", "This could cost him his chance at the University", "What will people think?"...ad nauseum.

Part of that was the area, and part of that was the time, and part of that was who the two families were.

So...I recovered in the hospital. Tragic accident. I went back to school. And faced the cold stares of my classmates. I heard the whispers, I was alone. Why?   Back to the part about who he was. His 'crew" had a game. They kept score. I was a trifecta: freshman, virgin, and teacher's kid.  Yeah he won the beer party at the end of the year.

I, on the other hand, didn't really handle things very maturely. I took my father's shot gun. double barrel 12 gage, went down to the pier where his boat was and pulled the trigger. While I had fired the other one before... I had never handled the double barrel before. Idiot me pulled both triggers, missed, put a hole in his boat, landed on my arse, but had the satisfaction of seeing him turn several shades of green before  diving into the water.

So....it was decided that least said sooner mended, since he was a senior I would be the one who 'visited" family out of town.

And it began. I was in Key West for a while, and for the next few years traveled all over. A week here, and weekend there.

Fast forward. I got married. Still not sure why.  Then he began to hit me. Never apologize. It was my fault he did it. Whatever.

I fought back. I fought back like a spit fire. But.ended up in the hospital a couple of times.

Once I woke in the ER to a Dr., a nurse, and a police officer I had gone to school with, all standing there. The Trooper asked me" What happened?" I lied..."I fell".  With out missing a beat the trooper asked "Well...did he help you fall?" Just like that I could have said yes and it would have all been over. But no...it would have just started things in a different way.

Back to the part about the times, and the place, and the families involved.  My answer was "no".

Instead I left and filed for divorce. Almost as bad. But I made a very interesting deal. I leave, take nothing, get nothing and have my son, and he never, never appears to me again. AND...if I ever even thought he was raising his hand to anyone..male or female...I would bring the world down around his ears.  He took the deal.

On the rebound...being incredibly stupid I got married soon after. This man was different. He was emotional and towards the end, sexual in his abuses. Being just a little wiser...I filed reports. But before anything could be done...he left and filed for divorce in another state. I let him. Although those reports still follow him since they were never resolved.

I had several other instances where I was  used as a punching dummy. One was another family member. A couple were women. (Yes..women can be abusers too)

I went to work as a volunteer first at a shelter. Next on a hot-line, and at different times with a counseling center.

Always we were told to not refer to the people coming in as victims.

This was professional, counselors, psychiatrists, social workers, Dr.s, lawyers, police... all said with out fail "The people are survivors...not victims".

OK argue semantics with me. I like word games. When compiling statistics for reports the word victim is appropriate. When referring to those who died, the word victim is appropriate, just as for any other crime. But when looking eye to eye with someone who has just come through hell...They are survivors".

I AM a survivor. Do not ever make the mistake of telling me I don't respect...or support others. Do not ever question my loyalty to the cause of ending violence.

I am a SURVIVOR.

Recently...I said something to a person. Something innocuous. Something about the word victim being rather demeaning.

The rant I received, along with the not so veiled question of my integrity was too much for me.

Damn skippy I'm pissed. There have been times when my integrity, my honor, was all I had. My word, and my heart, and compassin and what passes for my soul, are integral to who I am.

Who the blazes does this woman think she is that she can DEMEAN me with her rant.

Sound alittle thin skinned? Tough! I've worked my backside off, and still do. And more...I've survived.

I helped establish the blasted shelter in my home county. I worked with the Commission for Women, on local, state and National levels. I have appeared before local, state and even Congress and Senate committees. I have been to more protests, and marches than most people even have heard of. And been detained at the pleasure of the city or state, (and a couple of fed). Want to know the difference in feel between zip cuffs and metal ones?

I continue to volunteer.

Just because I am not some strident shrew screaming like a fish-wife in the bizarre doesn't give anyone the right to say I don't respect women.

I am a woman. And a survivor.

And damned proud of being both.

There are multiple self defense for women courses available everywhere. And it is because of survivors. They are in place because the women and men connected to the survivors carry that much respect for them. Changes have been enacted, and progress made, because of survivors.

But I digress.

I started by saying I am a survivor.

I end by saying I am survivor.

Never call me a victim.

Toby2day Toby2day 51-55, F 11 Responses May 15, 2010

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Thank you for sharing all these.

I really respect your opinion and your stating that you are a survivor. I am curious to understand how people come to label themselves in such ways, as I am really struggling with it, and just as you find being called a victim demeaning, I feel the EXACT same way about being called a survivor lol. So I've been looking online to try and get some genuine insight, as the people I've tried to discuss it with can't seem to get their heads around the fact that maybe people deal with stuff in different ways and that just because they view 'victim' as a loaded and disempowering word, some of us feel the same way about 'survivor' labels. And that's ok, because we are all different. So thank you for your insight. It's a shame the people I know can't express themselves as clearly as you do, without trying to dictate how others should feel about themselves. We've had enough of that already! lol. Best of luck to you.

Your story is moving,and yes you are a survivor!!

awesome :D I loved reading it. I'm a survivor too :)

Wow…What a survivor you are. You are an inspiration to me! Thank you for your story.

You are more than a survivor. You are a conqueror.

You are a strong survivor. Thank you for sharing this.

Beautiful!!! A true woman!

You are a survivor! It is so wonderful that you are now helping other women. You used a bad experience to not only make you stronger but to help others!<br />
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Way to Go!

lol. at one point I did go to Disney World, and Disneyland too; but I think it was for something else. <br />
But yes, victim implies weakness, and loss. It is a statisical word. <br />
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Thankfully now so many things have changed, there is still much to be done, but ranting and insulting over semantics does nothing but deafen people to a very real need. <br />
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(LOL>>> so ...I have to include my rant, above, in there too.)

You are a very cool woman! If you were my daughter I would have been taking you to Disney World as the boat was sinking, had I not killed that bastard before you could get to his boat. You are a helluva woman. <br />
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I totally agree with your reasoning between victim and survivor. I also look at it as that a victim sounds like the person lost, it is a weak word, our society has labeled weak people as victims. A little old lady gets her purse stolen by a young "punk." She's a victim because she lost, and she can't fight back. You definitely are a survivor.