Freedom to be me

Moving from actually being the victim to the position of survivor is not an easy journey, nor is it a quick one. The question has been raised: At what point do you stop being a victim and start becoming a survivor? More importantly, at what point are we capable of releasing the past and its grip on us to move forward into a future without victimization.

I was a victim. It was pure hell getting from that point to where I am now. I am now a former victim, a survivor. Oftentimes, a button will get pushed that causes me to travel back to the place of pain and suffering – just about the time I thought all buttons had been removed. It catches me off guard. Am I fooling myself to think I have finally made it past being a victim? I don’t think so.

Victims of domestic violence find it necessary to try to grow out of that victimization. It is not always easy, but when we find ourselves at a place of being ready to change our hearts and minds, a place where we are safe and sound and capable of moving out of the victim mentality, this is usually the first sign – we no longer have a continuous loop playing of the domestic violence, the abuse, every time someone cracks open a door for us to bring it up. Don’t get me wrong. Silence is the greatest enemy of domestic and intimate partner violence. I am convinced we can only approach healing and restoration if and when we speak out, whether it is to the law enforcement agency as we report the abuse and allow the courts to handle the situation, or share it with a close friend or a therapist. But, after a period of time, and the length of that time is different for each individual, we simply must move our focus away from what happened to us and toward how we can learn from it and help others who may now be in it. That is the greatest manner in which we will be able to overcome domestic violence – taking the evil that was wrought upon us, and turn it to the good, make it an instrument of encouragement, assistance and support for others who are walking in the shoes we used to wear on our own feet.

As long as the violence and abuse we were exposed to remains at the forefront of our lives and thoughts every day, it will continue to hold control over us. Our attacker still has the upper hand. Gaining freedom from this oppression is like no other. Weights are lifted from your shoulders, shackles fall from your hands, and your life once again belongs to you. A mind freed from domination leads to a life that is free to be lived to its fullest.

So, the next time you are asked if you are a victim of domestic or intimate partner violence, yet you have been safe and liberated for a considerable length of time, stop to consider your answer. Are you still a victim, or have you moved on to the mode of survivor?


Read CNN’s report, Empowered Patient and Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine’s Extraordinary Woman, both featuring Carolyn. Visit her website at

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