Saturday, October 8, 2011

My Story of Healing and Strength: Victim vs Survivor vs Living

I have been a rape survivor for 11 years now and I am starting to feel the label of being a "rape victim" slowly starting to rub off of my forehead. It is a long and difficult process to go from being ME to being a victim of a violent crime, to a survivor. I have come to the conclusion that I am both victim and survivor but the meanings change over time. I guess one could also look at it as I was a victim at the time of the rape and as soon as I was able to walk away alive I became a survivor, but that is something that can take time to own. This and many things lead to the difficulty of knowing your identity after being raped. At age 14 I was just trying to discover who I was as a person, then after being raped, I needed to discover who I was despite of it, and let me tell you, honestly, it took years. It is not that I disappeared completely, but that my true self was overshadowed by my victimization and as I slowly stopped feeling like a victim and more of a survivor. I was able to surface again, like coming to the top of the water to take a gulp of air. I no longer think of my assault on a daily basis, my fear of being raped again is no longer a compulsive thought, which for me was a huge step in the healing process. At the beginning I felt as if I had a big sign on me that said, "I was raped." I felt as if everyone knew and was looking at me and judging me. After I stopping feeling like a victim and more like a survivor, which by the way the definition from the dictionary is below:

Definition of SURVIVE from

intransitive verb

: to remain alive or in existence : live on
: to continue to function or prosper
So I was obviously surviving, I was breathing, waking up in the morning and going about my day. I was functioning. But I was not LIVING. I was existing and going through the motions of life, but not fully feeling it or experiencing it. I feel as if I am now finally starting to live, it took almost 10 years to feel this way and there was not one single event or day that I felt a change but just realizing that I did not think about my assault or have the fear of being assaulted again for a few days. That I went out at night with out feeling fear. That I am starting to pursue things that I enjoy and that make me happy. I am finally LIVING.

And I love it.

1 comment:

Claudia said...

Great post E. It's good to hear.