What takes a victim of violence to a place where they feel they have survived?

It is important to understand is that victims are survivors, even while they are being victimized.

However, how one feels on the inside makes the difference between the perception shift of victim to survivor.

For me, it came when I accepted that god did not mean for me to die, when I lay on the ground, awake again after my near death experience, and decided I would survive this.

Yet, looking back, I realize I was a survivor long before that. Every time I defied my abusers in some small way, even if it was something only I would notice, meant that I grew stronger inside, and ever more ready to leave. Every time I tried to pick up the pieces of my shattered life, not realizing it was my abusers who were the problem, I was surviving.

You learn to survive as you slowly separate your identity from that of your abuser. As you slowly rebuild (or in my case, for the first time discover) boundaries. As you slowly find your own voice, and realize you have a valued opinion on different things. As you slowly discover or rebuild self-worth, self-esteem, self-respect, you are a survivor.

Surviving abuse is a painful process. One where you question your sanity and the validity of your claim of abuse.

One thing abusers are good at is creating doubt – crazy making.

When you find your self waffling back and forth between loving and loathing, questioning whether it was your fault (when logically you know that it was in fact his doing, and you have evidence to back you up), needing answers to why he behaves the way he does, why his words do not match his actions – why he torments you like this. And it makes you crazy. And that behaviour makes the abuser turn around and call you the abusive one, the crazy one, the hysterical one, the neurotic one… that you are “lucky to have someone like” him. Because no one else would put up with you.

This is false. It is a form of brainwashing.

People, normal, average people, dislike lying, even if it comes easily to them. Truth is always easier. However, abusers are habitual liars. This means that they lie so often, to themselves and to others, that there is no emotional registers of any lie whatsoever. This makes them masters at finding your vulnerabilities and manipulating them.

Cut contact! When you find yourself between victim and survivor, between loving and loathing, between should I stay or should I go – err on the side on caution and LEAVE! It is better to be lonely and heartbroken then to be beaten down, raped, or dead.

Mean what you say and say what you mean! When you say your final goodbyes, abusers know that the majority of the time, you will return to them. And if you don’t come “crawling back” in a timely manner, they will reach out to you and make things out to be your fault, and even have you apologizing for things you did not do.

When you say goodbye, mean it! Change your number, block him from any social media, change your locks, move out, anything you have to do to stay safe. No matter how much you want to believe otherwise, these are extremely dangerous men!

Find a good support system! Whether it is a good friend, family members, a trusted elder, a therapist, or a survivor group online or in your community, having a good support system is crucial to your healing journey. It will help you feel less alone, and help you realize that these monsters are all the same.

Stay safe!

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