Prevailer: Overcoming Survivorism

Oct 19 21:00 2004 Candace Cook Print This Article

The ... ... ... valiant soldier returns from war to receive a warm welcome and ... from all those innocent lives he swore to defend. The people are ... He's award

The Prevailer: Overcoming Survivorism

A valiant soldier returns from war to receive a warm welcome and thanksgiving from all those innocent lives he swore to defend. The people are grateful. He's awarded medals,Guest Posting invited into the homes of many; he's the spotlight of great celebrations and an instant hometown hero. Sound familiar? During the course of the war, in which we are currently engaged, it's happened many times - as it has happened in many wars past.

A prisoner is walked down the halls. He's been in prison for years, and will finally taste freedom once again. His heart is joyous! But, society is unsure about his release. No one will invite this ex-convict into their home to celebrate his return, his release from a sentence served. He will not be paraded around town followed by hundreds of thankful and grateful souls! His joy is his own. No one thanks him for making it through, no one holds a celebration of his release, he should be ashamed of his crime and will make every attempt to hide it and the time he served.

Now consider the following:
A child finally escapes, whether through telling or running away or growing up, from an abusive relationship. It could have been a relative, a family friend, a stranger or anyone. They spent days, or weeks, months and possibly years; suffering at the hands of an abuser. Now, he's on his own - he feels ashamed to reveal his past to friends, family and/or acquaintances.. he must find his own support. Maybe through the anonymous internet where no one will recognize him. Maybe he'll sort through the hundreds of therapists available. Maybe he'll develop the courage to tell someone close to him, maybe not. No one thanks him for making it through, no one is grateful for his sacrifice, no one holds a celebration in his honor, no one can know his horror.

An abuse survivor is treated more like a prisoner being released than a soldier returning home from war. Why is that? I believe there are several reasons why this happens.

1. Survivor creates the wrong impression. The definition of the word explains why:

Survivor:
1. To remain alive or in existence.
2. To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere: families that were surviving in tents after the flood.
3. To remain functional or usable: I dropped the radio, but it survived.

The definition implies that an abuse survivor simply remained alive, existed throughout and after the abuse, carried on despite hardships/trauma, persevered despite what was happening to them in secret. This definition is false when used to desribe someone who has escaped abusive situations (escaped: whether that be by growing older, reporting the abuse, moving, or however the situation ended.).

A truer definition is present under the word "prevailer."

Prevailer:
1. To be greater in strength or influence; triumph: prevailed against the enemy.
2. To be or become effective; win out: hoped justice would prevail.

The definition of prevailer implies that someone who prevailed over their abuser is greater in strength and influence; has triumphed over the abuser(s) & abuse.

These descriptions are important. I believe that we are failing to acknowledge what we have accomplished by being strong-willed, enduring, persevering, defending, fighting for our lives, our minds, our spirits, and our human rights. We did all of that! We prevailed! We're still here, we're still enduring, persevering, defending and fighting! We're overcoming the side effects of the abuse we endured! We're prevailing over evil, over abuse, over abusers, over lies, over fear, and over silence - the greatest weapon in an abuser's arsenal.

By referring to ourselves as survivors, we keep ourselves locked in the grips of the abuse. Say these two sentences out loud..
1. I am an abuse survivor.
2. I have prevailed over an abuser and his attacks against me.

There is a difference in the emotions these two sentences invoke.
In the first sentence, I am an abuse survivor, the following is present:
1. The word abuse is given a prominent location in the sentence, focusing attention on that word, rather than on survivor.
2. When said aloud, the word abuse is given the strong accent.. I am an abuse survivor.
3. This sentence defines YOU according to the abuse. I am an abuse survivor. This defines you.. meaning you have allowed the abuse to define your life. It implies that the primary character and life shaping event in your life was being abused. I don't know about you, but while abuse played a part in my character & life development, it falls far from being the most important life & character shaping event of my life.

In the second sentence, I have prevailed over an abuser and his attacks against me, the following is present:
1. The word prevailed is given a prominent location in the sentence, focusing attention on that word and what it means, rather than the event (the abuser and his attacks).
2. When said aloud, the word prevailed is given the strong accent.. I have prevailed over an abuser and his attacks against me. This focuses attention on your accomplishment, your reaction to the attack - rather than giving attention to the abuser and what he did to you.
3. The phrase, "I have prevailed over.." gives yourself and any other listener the impression AND THE TRUTH about what happened. You were abused, but you also prevailed over the abuser because their goal was complete destruction of you and they failed.
4. This sentence does not define you according to the abuse. It's simply a statement about one thing you have accomplished in your life. You prevailed over an abuser an his attacks against you. You are not defined by that event or time period in your life, rather, you have grown from it.

It's possible that some may not believe that the way you say things makes a difference.. but, just look at the old saying "Is the glass half full or half empty?" It is a fact that the way you say things affects the way you think and the way others think. Perception and impression can be changed simply by making a few changes in the way you word a sentence.

I do not use my experience with abuse as an excuse for anything I may do. I do not require any person's sympathy. I do not define myself or my life by the event of abuse. So, I make sure that the words I use to describe that event reflect my feelings.

I have prevailed over an abuser and his attacks against me.

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About Article Author

Candace Cook
Candace Cook

24 year old mother of 2, stepmother of 2 and legal guardian of 1. Prevailer over sexual abuse and rape. Founder of internet support comminuty for survivors/prevailers over sexual abuse and rape. http://prevailer.true.ws

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