I am happy to use the word victim to describe myself in my prior life when I lived with abuse.

I was a Victim

Describing myself as someone who was a victim, to me seems fitting; given I spent most of my life being victimised. I do not see admitting that as a weakness, in fact, I see the opposite. For decades, I was abused, degraded and treated less than human and I am here strong, independent and proud of who I am.

It took strength and resilience to survive

For me, if I minimise my experience by refusing to see myself as a victim in the past, I am also minimising the strength it took to survive. To literally find the will to breathe in and out. Sometimes getting through the next minute seemed like an insurmountable mountain. I am proud that I found the strength to climb those mountains one at a time.

Reaching out for help terrified me.

I am grateful I found the courage to reach out for help. The world had not been kind to me and being vulnerable and trusting took more courage than I believed I had. The crisis workers, counsellors, social workers, Dr’s who were there for me as I tentatively entered a world free of abuse. A world so alien to me it scared me more than living with abuse. Yet without them, true healing would not have been possible.

I am a survivor.

I am a survivor, this is something that defines my sense of self. I found the courage day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute to keep going. Understanding the magnitude of what I had been through was possibly worse than going through the abuse in the first place.

I was victimised.

I was victimised, which made me a victim. I survived which makes me a survivor. It takes great inner strength to survive being victimised and acknowledging my victim-hood makes that pride possible.

Being referred to as a victim is a personal choice.

For those who have experienced abused and survived it is personal and how they like to refer to their experience is a unique and personal and it is up to them to define it, no one else.

See the humanity in a person, not the label.

So, when talking to someone who has or is living with abuse. Remember to see the individual not the sum of their current circumstances.