From domestic abuse to natural disasters or institutional oppression, trauma wreaks havoc in the emotional, physical, spiritual, sexual, and economic lives of those it touches. The aftermath is often an additional traumatic experience, exacerbated by a society that tends to blame victims. Many carry the open wounds of abuse and trauma for the rest of their lives. For some, the pain becomes a catalyst to get our attention (acknowledge what happened), find ways to cope and heal, and even to use the experience as motivation to action.
We are sometimes made victims. I don’t subscribe to thinking that focuses on blaming victims for their part in being victimized. I am not made a victim because of my state of mind, bad decisions, or destiny. I do know, however, that victim can be a temporary state. Or, it can become a lifetime perspective and identification. There is a way to shift from victim to survivor. It’s about healing and accepting our scars — and these wounds do leave scars.
Some people have found healing in using the anger and sadness of the things that happened to them (which were out of their control) to focus on things we can control. I cannot change what has happened in my past — I can try to work toward a better future. Sometimes this means domestic abuse survivors fight for better legislation to protect families — others find working so close to their pain is too hard. There are other outlets for activism, community outreach, and helping others though. For me, there is power in using the pain of my past to fight for human rights. I think of my activism as a a kind of hydra — where abusers and storms tried to cut me down, even more of my passion, focus, and compassion was reborn.
(Ummm … What is #SaturdaySchool? Click here to find out.)