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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » Victim vs. Survivor

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Author Topic: Victim vs. Survivor
Scarleteen Volunteer
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I tend to read a lot (sometimes too much, i think) into the words people choose to use, what they really meant, and if they could've used a different/better word. I've noticed that sometimes the words 'victim' and 'survivor' and used interchangably when discussing rape/abuse.

Is there a difference between a rape/abuse victim and a rape/abuse survivor? If yes, what? If no, why not?

If you've experienced rape/abuse, did you feel like a victim or a survivor? Did you identify as a victim or survivor? Did how you feel/identify change at various times in your recovery?


[ 10-29-2006, 09:25 PM: Message edited by: LilBlueSmurf ]

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Posts: 7168 | From: Ontario | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Scarleteen Volunteer
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I think, in general, people who have not been abused will refer to those who have as 'victims'. It's just the term you hear most often on news reports, in articles, in conversation, etc.

For people who have abuse experiences of their own, I guess it's a matter of mindset. Do you see yourself as a victim or as a survivor? I considered myself a victim for a while, but have lately started refering to myself as a survivor instead. The big difference, to me, is that 'victim' is a very passive word, and 'survivor' a very strong, active one. And also, because these words seem to be used to define people, not just in that one area but as a whole person - I'd rather be thought of as a survivor.

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Scarleteen Volunteer
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I'll admit that sometimes I struggle with wording. Not so much in sexual assault and abuse cases, since I feel squicky using victim for anyone who is alived and survived what happened to them but there are there other issues where I don't know what to use, like talking about people with AIDS. They're not survivors, in the sense I understand, because AIDS is fatal. But again, I don't want to call them victims, either. Sufferers works, but I mean... you call people with hemrrhoids sufferers too.

The good thing of all this is that it makes me very conscious of how I use my words, and I like that I challenge myself and the world challenges me to be open and thoughtful, and use empowering words and speech wherever I can.

Great topic, by the way!

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Executive Director & Founder
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Context has a lot to do with it for me.

For instance, in having a discussion about this case, I'll use the word victim when discussing the girl who was assaulted, because I want to do my level best to be sure to help people recognize that what was done to her was criminal. If I say survivor in this context, I feel like it usurps/obfuscates that.

For myself, it feels like I am both victim and survivor. I am the victim of crimes, and I was victimized, but I am also a survivor. But generally, since for me, none of my stuff is current, or in an immediate legal process, and because I worked hard for my survival, I always ID as a survivor. But I think, like September brought up, some of it is a difference in where a given person is in their process, like being a student and being a graduate is, if you can make sense of that.

[ 10-30-2006, 10:13 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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i think people who havent been through rape/ abuse will call those who have victims, after i was raped i felt at first like a victim beacuse i was suicidal etc but once i started to come to terms with what happened and deal with it myself and then became a 'surviver' because i had survived being raped plus also the trauma first

does that make sence?

love stace xxx

Posts: 38 | From: south shields | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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In a way, I would say both. Thoes who got raped and got away are survivors of the horrible action just done onto them. But then thoes who get raped and killed, are what I would call Victims. People who get raped are lucky to get out alive (I don't want it to sound like you didn't survive thet emotional trauma)

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lil red
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i went through and feel the same as 'stacy'. but i agree with 'october_baby' in the whole
Posts: 8 | From: montana | Registered: Nov 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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