I have a problem: am I a victim or am I a survivor? If you’ve been following my blog at all you may have noticed that up to this point I’ve been using the word “victim” a lot and “survivor” seldom. There’s a reason for this but I’m not sure how well I can explain it, but I’ll give it a go.
In short, being victimized has everything to do with the perpetrator. Being a survivor has everything to do with me. My concern is that when using the word survivor, there’s some inference that the crime of victimization is in the past and non-victims might be tempted to want to leave it there. The problem with that is that though the crime happened long ago, victims are often dealing with the consequences for a very long time. Sometimes for the rest of their lives. I would argue, others would disagree, through no fault of their own.
The point that I’m trying to make is that as a victim I have been violated and there are consequences that I’m having to deal with on a continual basis. So being a victim is something done to me and the perpetrator is accountable for the damage caused. On the other hand, in this context, I see being a survivor as something I choose to do in response to being victimized; even if that something doesn’t seem to be enough.
To be clear, I don’t believe it’s healthy to get stuck in the victim mentality. But it is necessary to acknowledge the damage done by the crime that led to one being victimized. It is also appropriate to recognize the challenging and difficult work of recovery that often lasts for the rest of our lives: triggers, flashbacks, trust issues, anger issues, relationship issues, etc.
For me the fallout has been extraordinary, even unbearable at times, and recovery is proving to be an ongoing struggle that I’m not sure I’m winning. This statement is very vague and I am sorry for that, but to try to explain it seems that would take an awful lot of words and I’m not even sure I could do a good job explaining it if I were to try. Not even sure I understand myself. LOL. But there is one aspect that I can try to explain and that is the overwhelming sense of shame that I feel and can’t seem to shake. I live in constant shame. It’s not that I want to or that I even think about it all. But the shame is so deep rooted that it casts a dark color on so many different aspects of my life and there doesn’t seem to be any escaping it for me.
It feels like I should explain how the shame impacts my life but I’m going to hold that discussion for later. For the moment let it suffice to say that the effects of the shame are like a heavy lead weight upon my shoulders and living with it is tiring. It is wearing me out, draining me of my energy. I am becoming exhausted. Again.
Do you or have you felt that way? Let me know. It’s my hope that by sharing my experience it may help us to connect in some way. It’s important for others to know they are not alone.
Pope Francis, I appeal you to meet the needs of survivors of clergy sexual abuse by making reparations commensurate with the damage, emotional or otherwise, caused to survivors. I have ideas on how to do this. If you can’t do this, then I respectfully ask, on behalf of the Church, you to stop receiving communion until such time that the Church does. Because until the Church does, it will not be in communion with the saints. Sincere contrition is meaningless without reparations in kind. Demonstrate to the world that the Catholic Church is catholic; that is, the Church Jesus established with Peter as the rock, the first pope; that the Church practices what it preaches.
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you much love and peace,
“Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.” ― Mother Teresa
Consider sharing this blog with others. Victim/survivors of abuses, more often than not, carry this burden silently alone, not knowing how to deal with it or where to turn, but need hope. Loved ones and caregivers also need support. We never know who is or wants to reach out for help. This blog might be of help to caregivers and loved ones of abuse. Silence is deadly and if together we are able to help or save just one life, isn’t that worth it?
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It has been great to meet and talk with you Matt… I look forward to reading long or short versions of any topic, story, thoughts or emotions you touch on.. I hope they help other survivors in their healing journey.. I know talking about it helps me.. be well !
The other day I shared a story on FB about losing two teeth in an accident, and someone said everything isn’t everyone’s business. I said, it was a burden and shame I was holding onto and I no longer wanted to carry it. God told me to turn over my burdens and turn them into … Continue reading Tamirra H.
In reaching out to others, you are Christ’s hands. It takes courage and broad shoulders. I will continue to pray that the Holy Spirit guide those open hands into a thriving ministry…Don’t let yourself fail prey to discouragement. It may be your calling. God bless you!