Victim or Survivor?

il_340x270.300695958Victim: a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or bysome impersonal agency

I’ve been thinking a lot about this word lately.

If I’m honest, I’m dealing with a lot of anger these days.  I’m angry that the decisions of others have so greatly affected my life, and that I had no control over how the choices of others have impacted my life, my emotions, my direction in life, my choices, etc.

I’m guessing we could all look back in our lives and find instances where someone else’s choices have had an impact on you – through no fault or choice of your own.  It could be the divorce of your parents, an addiction of a sibling, a family member’s choice to move away for a job, etc.  Or something even more heinous – perhaps sexual or physical abuse.

There are people around the world who are victims of horrific circumstances: slavery, government oppression, mutilation, murder, poverty, starvation.  But we don’t all fall into those categories.

And yet, we still may feel like a victim.

That our choices were made for us, without our input, because of the decisions of another.  And the ramifications of those choices may have had devastating consequences for us – those who had no part in making those choices.


I am working to change my mindset from that of a victim, to that of a survivor.

Holding on to the mindset of a victim strips me of power.

It gives me an identity that God did not create me to have.

It sits me square in the middle of a pity party.

It keeps me focused on someone else and on circumstances that I cannot change, no matter how desperately and passionately I want to change them.

It can create bitterness in my heart.

It keeps me trapped.

And I don’t like feeling like that.

I have had the incredible blessing of learning from some pretty neat and wise women lately.  One of them sent me a document. It outlined the healthy and non-healthy ways we deal with stress.  I wanted to focus on the “Victim/Implementer”.

When we are in a stressful, traumatic situation, the UNhealthy way of dealing with it is becoming a victim.  This can be characterized by being: defensive, apologetic, sad all the time, hurt, helpless, hopeless, guilty, despairing, passive, afraid, compliant, lazy, manipulative.

Can anyone else relate???


Dealing with it in a healthy way and becoming an implementer. This can be characterized by being: confident, hopeful, active, brave, assertive, realistic, takes responsibility for self, makes own decisions, participates in their own recovery, believes in self, makes plans, sets goals, follows through in spite of setbacks.

Hmmmmmmm – that’s HARD work though!

Those characteristics of being a victim are much easier.  When you have suffered a trauma, those feelings come pretty easily.  I’m guessing it’s probably pretty normal to feel most of them.

The problem lies in getting stuck there.  In letting those feelings become who you are.  They can transform your identity into “Victim”.

It’s a painful place to be.  But at the same time, it’s comfortable in a way.  It doesn’t take work to sit in that dark muck.  It’s incredibly easy for our minds to justify all of those feelings.  “Well, look what they did to me….  It wasn’t my fault, and here I sit…..  There’s no hope because of what he did….. My life will never be righted again now…..  I can’t do anything to change my life now that she did that…..  I’m the way I am because of what they did, I’ll never do any better…..”

Those thoughts take no effort.  And they “make sense” when you’re in that spot.

So, how DO we combat those kinds of feelings and thoughts and not allow ourselves to take on the identity and title of “Victim”?

A lot of re-programming!

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

Philipians 4:8

We generally can’t just choose to be confident.  At least I can’t!  But we CAN seize opportunities to do things that helps us feel confident in our skills, our relationships, our abilities, our choices.  We can then take responsibility for those choices and actions and follow through with them, even if there are set backs.  We may not be able to just wake up one day hopeful for all the future holds, but we CAN choose to replace the negative, self defeating lies we’ve been listening to with truths of our worth in God’s eyes.  Truths like the fact that God knows the number of hairs on our head, so we can work on trusting that He still has purpose for us in this world.  We can mourn the life we thought we would have had, but also choose to look ahead with anticipation of what can still be.

I think choosing to live as a victim keeps us looking backwards, while choosing to live as a survivor helps us to look forward.

We can’t forget what’s been done in the past.  We have to do hard, hard work to look at it, deal with it, process it, learn from it and not let it control us.  And when it sneaks up again (and again and again and again), we go through that process again.  But it doesn’t have to hold us back forever.

If we do the work, we can call ourselves a survivor.

Do you remember those bookmarks and things you could find with your name on it and a definition of what your name meant?  I remember seeing those a lot as a kid.  I pretty much always saw my name, Victoria, to mean “victorious” (which was a major bummer to me because I thought that lacked all creativity!)

As an adult I have not always liked that name.  Because, you see, you can’t be “victorious” if you don’t go through some really crappy, awful things!  You don’t call yourself victorious after walking around the block (unless you have a physical impairment of some kind!), you call yourself victorious after running a marathon!  You had to train for that, you had to preserve through cramps, blisters, burning lungs, exhaustion, and maybe an intense desire to quit!  But you didn’t quit, and were victorious!

We can’t be survivors if we don’t first endure some awful stuff!

I wish I was writing this from “the other side”.  I wish I could say I’m living a fully victorious life and calling myself a survivor.  But I’m not there yet.  I’m just starting this fight.

Anyone want to move from “victim” to “SURVIVOR” with me??


2 thoughts on “Victim or Survivor?

  1. My name meant “noble warrior” and I hated that. I wanted to be “pretty princess.” lol Now that I’m older, of course, I see the value and beauty of the former. I like that shift in thinking. I need to work on that in several areas, too.

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