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Are you a victim or a survivor?

I vividly remember standing in front of a classroom, passionately giving a presentation for a class assignment on domestic violence. As I delved into my presentation, I casually used the term "victim" to describe those who had managed to leave their abusive relationship. Little did I know that my choice of words would be a setup for a profound revelation.

After the presentation, a friend approached me and gently suggested, "You know, a more fitting term for someone who has emerged from a domestic violence situation is a survivor." That simple reframing of words resonated deeply with me, prompting a fundamental shift in my perspective.

I realized at that moment that there comes a crucial point in the journey where we can make a transition from victim to survivor. It is essential to understand and acknowledge this shift because clinging to the victim's identity can inadvertently impede the healing process.

A lady who needs Christian counselling in 60637 to transform form being a victim to a survivor

Understanding the Difference:

The word victim is used to describe someone experiencing harm by another person or a terrible event; whether it's domestic violence, a robbery, or another tragedy, it would be appropriate to use the word victim to describe the individual who has been injured in that circumstance.  During those dark moments, acknowledging the pain and injustice is essential. It's a necessary step in the journey toward healing.

But what happens when the dust settles and the chaos subsides? That's when the distinction between a victim and a survivor becomes crucial. This difference is profound, shaping the narrative of our lives in the aftermath of trauma. A victim is ensnared by the present, tethered to the pain and powerlessness of the past. It is a label that, while valid during the darkest hours, should not become a permanent fixture in our identity.

On the other hand, a survivor transcends the confines of victimhood. They acknowledge the pain but refuse to let it define them. A survivor recognizes the strength within, nurtures resilience, and embraces the transformative power of healing. It's a shift from being captive to the past to actively shaping a resilient future.

From Victim to Survivor: How to Navigate the Transformation:

Do the work:

There is nothing passive about healing from trauma. I know there is an old saying that time heals all wounds, but time alone is not enough. It's like breaking your leg and refusing to go to the doctor because you believe that "time heals all wounds." We wouldn't treat our physical healing that way, so why would we treat our emotional healing as an afterthought? Our emotional well-being impacts every area of our lives. Because trauma affects the mind, body, and spirit, it is imperative that we invest time, resources, and energy in our emotional healing. The path to healing cannot be simplified to a single blog. Each of our journeys is different. Yet, there is one thing that we do know: Trauma disconnects us from ourselves, others, and even God. However, reconnection begins when we can share our stories in safe environments where we feel cared for.

As you begin to work on your own healing, remember that you don’t have to go through the process alone. Stay connected to a support system, whether it’s your church, a nonprofit organization, a coaching program, or a group of positive friends who will accompany you through the process of rebuilding life after a tragic event. If surrounded by the right group of people, they can begin to help us reframe how we see ourselves post-tragedy. 


One of the significant steps that we must take to transcend seeing ourselves as a victim to a survivor is the process of reframing. Reframing is not about throwing sprinkles and ice cream on top of manure and pretending what happened was sweet. There is nothing good about abuse, gun violence, or a natural disaster. We need to name and acknowledge the evils, injustices, and tragedies for what they are. We also need to be kind and patient with ourselves as we take tiny steps forward on our healing journey. Yet, we also must be highly aware of our thoughts, as they can run amok if we are not careful.

Our thoughts can continue to beat us up, tell us that we are worthless, that we could have done something different to combat the traumatic event, and that we are never going to be able to recover from what we experienced. These types of thoughts are not only harmful, but they will keep us stuck in a victim mentality. Instead, let’s acknowledge the fact that what we went through is very painful and in some cases horrific; but it doesn’t have the power to define the rest of my life. I will reclaim the power that was snatched away from me as a result of the tragic event because I am a survivor. That paradigm shift, in and of itself, is enough to help you to start tapping into your inner resilience and strength that resides within you as a child of God, to reclaim your voice, agency, and ability to not only survive after a tragic event but begin to thrive.

Express Yourself:

While acknowledging victimhood is valid, it's essential to express these experiences. Vocalizing the pain, the challenges, and the journey toward survival fosters a sense of release and allows for the acknowledgment of personal strength. The act of expressing oneself becomes a bridge from victim to survivor, reclaiming control over one's narrative. Expressing yourself can take many forms, each offering unique avenues for healing and self-discovery:

A lady who needs Christian counselling in 60637 to transform form being a victim to a survivor

1. Artistic Expression: Channel your emotions and experiences into art. Whether it's painting, drawing, sculpting, or any other form of creative expression, art provides a tangible outlet for your innermost thoughts and feelings. Use colors, shapes, and textures to convey the complexity of your journey from victim to survivor.

2. Writing: Journaling, poetry, or storytelling can be powerful tools for processing trauma and reclaiming your narrative. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and let your words flow freely. Write letters to yourself, to God, or to those who have hurt you. Explore your emotions, reflect on your experiences, and document your journey toward healing.

3. Dance and Movement: Movement therapy can be a cathartic way to release pent-up emotions and reconnect with your body. Allow yourself to move freely, expressing joy, pain, anger, and resilience through dance. Whether it's alone in your room or in a structured dance class, let your body tell the story of your transformation.

4. Working with a Christian Counselor: Seek guidance and support from a Christian counselor who can provide a safe space for you to explore your feelings and beliefs. Through counseling, you can gain insights into the ways your faith intersects with your healing journey. A counselor can offer tools, techniques, and perspectives that empower you to navigate the challenges of moving from victim to survivor within the context of your Christian faith.

Regardless of the method you used to express yourself, it is important that you have an outlet to release the pain, emotions, and thoughts you have inside. If done in a progressive way, it can help you to heal and experience growth.

What is Post-Traumatic Growth?

Post-traumatic growth is the phenomenon where individuals, after experiencing trauma, undergo positive psychological changes. While trauma undeniably changes us, the goal is not to revert to the person we were before the traumatic event. Instead, post-traumatic growth offers the possibility of emerging stronger and better on the other side. It's a transformative journey where survivors can discover newfound resilience, wisdom, and a deeper understanding of themselves.

Trauma changes us; there's no denying that fact. However, it's crucial to recognize that change doesn't equate to regression. We may not return to the exact individuals we once were, but we have the power to become something more—something better.

So, if you find yourself standing at the crossroads between victim and survivor, I urge you to choose the path of strength, resilience, and healing. Recognize the hurt, mourn the loss, but do not let the identity of victimhood become a permanent label. You are more than what happened to you; you are a survivor.

In your pursuit of healing, remember that it's okay to seek help and support. Faith on the Journey is here for you. If you need assistance or someone to talk to, reach out to us for christian Counseling. Together, let's embark on a journey from hurt to healing, from victim to survivor.


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