I am a Survivor of domestic violence.  (this year, I also became a suicide survivor when my partner committed suicide – but more of that another post). 

It took me a very, very long time to utter those words.   I’m not a huge fan of labels; and the label “Survivor” left an especially unpleasant feeling inside myself for a very long time.  In fact, I hated having that label attached to me in any way.  People would call me a Survivor as a way to praise my resiliency and to congratulate me on…. well…  surviving.  But, every time I heard this word, I would cringe. 

I finally sat down and asked myself what it was about the term “Survivor” that caused such a strong negative reaction in me.   What I eventually realized is that in classifying myself as a Survivor; I had to admit and accept those things that had happened in my life to gain me that title.  I couldn’t hide my struggles anymore.  I had to ADMIT that I was, in fact, an abused woman.   For a very long time, this was a shameful secret that I buried, from others as well as from myself.

In my family; we hid our pain.  I suppose we somehow thought that if we pretended everything was ok – it would be.  If we didn’t admit anything was wrong, then everything must be perfect.  This mindset followed me into adulthood; and was solidified during my marriage.  I became an expert at not facing reality.  I made it through each day by pretending that I wasn’t constantly afraid.  Putting on a face to the world that everything was fine.

It eventually dawned on me that in doing so, I was preventing myself from healing.  In denying that I was a survivor – I was denying myself the opportunity to STOP being a victim.

Now, I am honest about my life experiences.  I’ve removed the stigma that I had placed on the fact that I was a victim.  Instead – I am proud to say –

I AM A SURVIVOR.

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