Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

I’m Not A Victim, Don’t Feel Like A Survivor


Victim or survivor? There has to be a different word for what I have experienced and what is to come. I don’t feel like repeating the word “victim” to myself or portraying myself as such. I am a “survivor” of abuse; however, the word survivor brings to my mind those who have been seriously and physically wounded due to the violence inflicted upon them. I don’t want to run around calling myself a survivor when I haven’t survived comparable physical harm.

I’m not taking away from the fear and pain physical abuse has caused in me – those feelings are real and valid. But I’ve never looked like Rhiana in her post-abuse photos, I’ve never been hospitalized due to physical abuse.

I’m looking for a word that describes what I’ve experienced. A short, small, easily understood label.

I also have to be careful of what I say to myself about my experience with abuse. I don’t want to blame or label HIM in order to describe myself. My and Will’s understanding and take on our experience is different, and that’s really all there is to it. I cannot force him to admit to nor accept responsibility for any of it; I cannot somehow force him to stop blaming me for it. I can’t even convince him that his behaviors are abusive, let alone that his behaviors have impacted me in a negative way.

Labeling Me

So how do I describe me (within the confines of abuse)?

  • Sufferer (no, I definitely don’t want to live my life as a “sufferer of” anything; I prefer to recognize and correct instead of suffer)
  • Contributor (I did contribute to the abusive cycle, but if I contributed to the abuse, doesn’t that mean that I approved of it?)
  • Participant (somewhat close, but implies the word “willing” to go along with it and doesn’t quite describe the confusion mental and emotional abuse inflicts)
  • Victim (yes, I am a victim of abusive behavior, but like “sufferer” I prefer to not live my life under the victim umbrella)
  • Survivor (have I survived it? are there degrees of  victim-hood that hold greater claim to this word?)
  • Wife of an Abuser (labels HIM and looking for an enemy seems unhelpful)
  • Casualty (closer…implies that I am still living although I’ve previously been in the thick of it)
  • Recovering Victim (yuck. plain yuck.)
  • Misused (as in “not cared for in the way I would have liked”; still not right because it implies that I can be somehow “used” or did agree to someone “using” me)
  • Living with Abuse (begs the question “WHY?” and that requires an answer that the asker wouldn’t understand anyway)

Abuse itself is insidious, tricky, sneaky and quiet. It makes sense that Abuse wouldn't "want" a label pinned to it. But I feel weird without one.I cannot think of a word or phrase that succinctly labels my experience. Yet. Maybe the lack of vocabulary for “the abusive situation” speaks more than one word could. Abuse itself is insidious, tricky, sneaky and quiet. It makes sense that Abuse wouldn’t “want” a label pinned to it.

Abuse is what it is. Abuse creates victims for a while, then either disposes of that victim (killing body or spirit) or the victim becomes something other than Victim. Abuse uses someone else to inflict its pain; the longer the “abuser” stays in the dark about Abuse, the longer the abuse lives. Likewise, the longer the “victim” doesn’t recognize Abuse, the easier it is for Abuse to infiltrate the victim’s behaviors as well.

Abuse seeks to win and live and thrive in two people, not one. When Abuse is able to accomplish that feat, it is more likely that Abuse’s two victims will stay silent about the torment they inflict upon one another.

There is probably no one word to describe “this” and that is probably why I’ve been writing about Abuse for over a year.