I don't know about you but sometimes it seems to me that people tend to view abuse survivors as being victims still. It's as if they hear only one part of our story, focus on it, and see us as these human beings that are too weak, too shattered, and too broken to ever make it in life when in fact, we have all ready made it by breaking free from a past that once held us prisoner in our own lives. Yet, society wants to view survivors and depict them in such a way where people feel sorry for us and pity us instead of hearing the message of hope we bring with us and seeing the courageous, strong, brave, and beautiful people we are and being happy for us that we actually left our dangerous situations and are now living an abuse free life.
I think that if people would see past the hard times we've endured, if they would look beyond the scars, and if they would take the time to really listen to our stories, then their perspective would change to one of respect and admiration for the image they would see us in would be one of someone who never gave up but overcame the challenges and battles to find the victory gained in reclaiming our lives once again and finding the freedom to be who we want to be as we chose to build a better life for ourselves. I often like to say that a survivor is like a butterfly. When most people look at butterflies, the first thing they see is a tiny, delicate insect with fragile wings but they don't think about what it took for that beautiful butterfly to become the beautiful butterfly it is today. Before a butterfly becomes a butterfly, it starts out as a caterpillar as we all know and that caterpillar must go through many transformations and changes before it breaks out of the cocoon. Breaking out of that cocoon is no easy feat, either. That butterfly must fight its way through to make it out and emerge as the newly formed butterfly. For if that caterpillar is not strong enough and able to push its way through that cocoon then it won't survive or live to be what it was meant to be and born to be all along, a beautiful butterfly that has an important role to play.
We survivors are in many ways like the butterfly who found the strength to break out of the cocoon. People think we are just delicate, fragile human beings who will easily break but we too had to find the courage and strength to make a breakthrough in our own lives in order to be free and become who we were always born to be and meant to be in life. We, too, had to undergo changes and fight to break the cycle of violence that we knew so we could find happiness and love in the freedom to be our own person and to live our own life. Not every battle we fought was easy and not everymv m experience we went through was good for many of those experiences left with us memories we'd rather forget, but it was through our own determination and perseverance that we discovered the courage and strength we had in us all along to take back our own lives.
Every survivor was once a victim, but that is the key phrase, we were once a victim, meaning we are no longer a victim because a victim is someone who continues to suffer harm but a survivor is one who continues to function and prosper despite the hard times and opposition they faced (these are the definitions according to dictionary.com). Because we were there before, we have more of an insight to helping others out there who are still trapped and whose voices have not been heard yet. Yes, we went through struggles and we went through things that were never our fault and yes we will always have the memories and always have the scars. However, those scars are a testimony to our survival. A scar may remind us of where we have been and what we endured to get here today, but it also serves as a reminder that we were more than brave enough, more than strong enough and more than courageous enough to move on and fight back so that we wouldn't have to stay in that same place forever.
Those who do not understand what we have been through will always try to tell us that there is something wrong with us. I am here to tell you, though, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with you. I suffer from PTSD due to my past, I still have bad dreams and nightmares from time to time, yet I refuse to allow it to prevent me from living a better life or allow it to define me because there is more to me than what I went through. It isn't about who I was yesterday or the life I once lived. It is about who I am today, how far I've come, the progress I continue to make every single day with every step I take, and being happy with who I am and the life I have now. Just as a butterfly is stronger than people give it credit for, so we survivors are stronger than people want to give us credit for. We are not broken or damaged. We are beautiful, determined, brave, strong, and courageous and what we went through didn't make us who we are but it showed us who we could be and what we had in us when we discovered that strength and power within, when we used it to fight back to gain victory, when we turned a setback into a comeback, and when we began to see the people we were always meant to be and born to be in this life.
Jenna Kandyce Linch
Copyright (c) Jenna Kandyce Linch