How does a caterpillar transform into a butterfly? It doesn’t just happen. There are many steps involved in this transformation, as there are in the journey from victim to survivor.
Going from victim to survivor has to be a conscious choice, because often, as we suffer through “victimhood,” we rarely realize we’re doing it. We grow so accustomed to the misery of our victim mentality that we forget that we are making the conscious choice to live life this way.
As a former victim of a victim mentality myself, it felt like unfortunate things were always happening to me; that I had the worst luck in the world while the people around me appeared to have it much easier. After being raped, I sulked in my depression, running from one addiction to the next, trying to numb the memories and feelings of worthlessness and humiliation. They were hard to numb, and in the sobriety I experienced between substance abuse and eating disorders, I couldn’t handle it when my feelings of being violated came flooding back in.
To move on with your life, you must break away from identifying yourself as a victim and transcend this experience by becoming a survivor. After being sexually assaulted or experiencing any great trauma, consciously processing your thoughts and feelings is not always your first response. More often, we are just trying to survive, to live day to day without our pain burdening us to the point of inactivity. I found that running away from my emotions through the use of substances inevitably complicated things. Not only did I have to deal with being raped, but now I had to battle addiction.
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