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Rape Victim Vs. Rape Survivor

victoriaplaceo started this conversation

You here everywhere about rape victims. You hear about them on the news, in the paper, on websites, everyone seems to be a victim. While I am not arguing that people that are raped have been victimized I believe that perhaps the word victim and the connotations that go with it may be a problem. Even I have slipped numerous times and written victim in my posts.

I learned very early on after the rape, that calling myself a victim would not help my mindset. One definition I found for victim was this "an unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance." While that definition is not inaccurate, imagine if everyday after the rape I thought of myself that way.

The word victim is true, the person was victimized. However, if they are alive they survived. One definition I found for survivor was this "one who lives through affliction." Isn't that a more positive way to view an "unfortunate" circumstance.

The definition and meaning of survivor carries more empowerment then the word victim. That is what a rape survivor needs after such a horrible experience. They need to feel empowered, safe, and in many cases lucky that they lived.

I have always viewed myself as a survivor, if I didn't I may be in ruins right now. I could imagine myself now if I focused on my victimization. I would think the world was against me, that I deserved something from people. I am not saying I don't deserve respect and caring from people, I am saying I could not drown myself in the negative or perhaps I could not get back up.

Of course, I was victimized, but that does not mean I have to see myself as a victim nor does in mean that I have to focus on all the negatives that come with being a victim.

By reframing my thoughts as a survivor I can focus on other things. Things such as I get to see my family and friends still, I get to see another birthday, Christmas, etc. I lived.

What are your opinions on this?



Victoria Placeo

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DocDee
This devalues the term survivor which should be reserved for truly life threatening situations. "I survived my commute to work" does not pass the survival test unless you were in an accident and went on to ICU. Similarly some rape is truly life threatening and it is appropriate to use "rape survivor" to describe the victim. But what about the more prevalent date rapes and statutory rapes which were not truly life threatening? Perhaps victim is a better word?
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BROKENDARKANGELJADE
Well I find I agree with all aspects and yet also feel using the word survivor is that you are taking control and power back, facing all of the aftermath of being raped and not letting it or how anyone or anything sees and the stigma of being a or called a victim, is the choice to keep surviving to be yourself and that includes the changes to who we are after and the ways the aftermath affects us. That we are not just going to crawl under a rock or completely forget, or saying we will ever be the same , because we won't ever be the same, that we are not letting this control everything in our lives, not just take it and yes it is horrible what happened,but I am not giving up I am still alive and even though it killed part of who I was, I am still here , still going to do everything I can to be me and accept me and the changes and love myself and I will not let someone else keep me in the victim mindset. Yes the aftermath affects us for the rest of our lives and many things that still would fall under still being victimized over and over however being a survivor is despite all of theses things we keep going and keep getting up when knocked down even if it takes a bit to get back on our feet we do. As for comparison to murder or saying it doesn't killyou to be raped, well really it does kill parts and pieces of the person, and some rapes are also a life being threatened to be killed , or they might try to band not succeed in killing the person. There is also some that are tortured, beaten,starved and raped for years and no one can say that they are not either a victim and a survivor of that situation, because they are both really. Perhaps many would rather be seen as a survivor than a victim because of the stigma associated with the word and definition of the word victim by society, friends , and family members and in general with it . It bothers me as much as those that had it happen to them and turn around and do it to someone else and when caught play the victim card as a reason why they did this, no it is an excuse to make it more ok and justify their own choices and actions,. They had choices and they know right from wrong, and how horrible it was to go through this, so why do it to someone else, it to me is as bad as them saying I was drunk or on drugs, well we are still liable and responsible for our actions and choices as well as the consequences of them. I faced death and many things in my personal situation as well as cancer at 9 an a half and suicide attempts and self harm and drug use and many other things , I am a survivor of all of it and was a fighter through it all but untill I really realized what and how I survived all of it and that I decided I wasn't going to let it keep me down , to continue to rule every thing in me and my life , what I had really came through even though I'd have all of the aftermath of all of it I could and would keep going, fighting and surviving, that I am both victim and survivor did anything change or start to or get any better . That there sadly are so many others I can understand and support, encourage,help them did I even slightly start to feel alive at all again. Just because one chooses to be or call themselves a survivor does not mean they aren't still broken or won't breakdown dealing with the aftermath. Just means they will rise back up as soon as they can.
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brutallybeautiful
it would be great if the rape culture wasnt so prevalent in america
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Panda8825   in reply to Panda8825
Also another thing people never want to talk about is the physical toll rape has. Anyone that has suffered a rape may have some embarrassing physical aliments; but no one wants to talk about that. Just the mindset, and everyone wants a quick fix. A rubber stamp that says you're 'okay' because you 'survived' and therefore you should feel empowered even though you may have trouble with incontinence due to the trauma you suffered. Kind of hard to feel empowered when you shit yourself driving home from the rape therapy group that just spent an hour telling you that you are a strong goddess and nothing can harm you. Welcome to reality. You were raped, and you will most likely be the only party that suffers.
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Panda8825
I don't agree with either label. The connotation of the word 'victim' in most people's mind means the person is weak, and a sloppy mess. The word 'survivor' when referring to a person that has suffered being raped is just as bad, but for other reasons. It's the same as saying 'I survived drinking sour milk.' you probably weren't going to die from drinking sour milk, and statistically you're probably not going to die directly as a result from being raped. (suicide is not a direct outcome it's a secondary outcome). To me women that can only feel better through a false sense of empowerment by using the word survivor vs victim are no better than the women that admit they are weak and refer to themselves as victims. NoT all women that were raped are weak, not all need to feel empowered afterward and find their 'inner goddess' of strength or become sensitive and curl up in a ball every time the word 'rape' is said. However, they still suffer and there is no where for these women to go. They aren't survivors, but they aren't victims. They are people that have been harmed, and like any physical and psychological wound it's going to have heal with time and it will scar. It's just something that is going to have to happen, regardless of what you call yourself. Using a label to make yourself feel better is just deluding yourself that you can be okay and fine again. You will NEVER be the same again, you will change the way you act and see the world. Just as with the sour milk, you change the way you act (checking the date, smelling the milk) You can either accept that and adapt or delude yourself and fall prey to nightmares and the inevitable breakdowns that accompany suppression.
I am for removing these bullshit labels and taking a matter of fact approach: You won't feel right, or okay for a while. You'll get pissed off, you'll get depressed and you'll forever be changed. Even after healing there is no promise that you'll be a better person afterward (which I always found that expectation to be crap. It's like saying that rape was a good thing since you became a better person for it) Yes, you will never be who you were before completely but the person you become you can control. Hiding behind a word to define yourself is detrimental to this process of real healing and acceptance of self. It delays and even halts it. It allows you to still stick your fingers in your ears so you don't have to fully face all of the unpleasant truths of the aftermath.

Just my opinion, not everyone will see things the way I do; not everyone would be willing to cut the hand holding and actually face the full impact of what had happened. I can see why as well;due the the pressure to become your normal self again, and if you fail to then you're broken and the rapist won. That mindset needs to be killed so you can actually heal.
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superpower   in reply to Plastic
Then I guess you should stop sharing your opinions on a subject you clearly do not understand.
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superpower   in reply to evolutiongoneastray
I agree with you. I also admire your courage to say it out loud.
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cebbec   in reply to Plastic
I completely agree with your Plastic. First off: Rape doesn't kill people. Murder does, and sometimes rape can lead to suicide but to be frank, the word survivor is a little misused compared to how it's typically been used in the last 100 years. People survive near death experiences. Rape simply isn't that. As I said in my own comment, and you said it in yours, it's pretty clear that rape victims are simply trying to use the word survivor to (for a lack of a better term) make themselves feel better. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that. If misusing a word helps someone heal than I think it's worth it.
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cebbec
I first heard the term "rape survivor" listening to NPR and I immediately knew exactly what you described in this post: That people had obviously decided to change the term to give victims a more positive/empowered outlook on their situation and themselves. I'm not saying it's wrong.. but it feels like another example of people trying to control language to suit their needs (political correctness?)
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evolutiongoneastray
this is the topic to my application essay to colleges. and i definitely agree, i played victim far too long. i am a survivor.
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victoriaplaceo
 in response to Plastic...   Not going to ignore you Plastic LOL. I really do not know how to respond and all I can do is say thank you for another opinion to take into consideration! I asked for opinions and I got them!

I really mean that and not sarcastically sometimes you can comment places and one never knows if you are being sarcastic, aggressive...so I thought I would clarify:)

So I appreciate your input
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Plastic
On second thoughts, what do I know, and who am I to all know-it-all about this kind of thing? Well done for keeping on keeping on and feel free to ignore me.
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Plastic
I found this post because I was wondering about the use of the two terms - the topic has been in the news recently and I'm due to take part in a "Slutwalk".

I won't bother with dictionary definitions because there will be hundreds of them to suit any purpose, but to me a survivor would be simply "one who survives" (as opposed to being killed or dying). It would be appropriate to use the term when describing an incident which could have gone either way - eg earthquake survivor or holocaust survivor.

Serious and horrific as it is, rape itself does not take life. Murder does, but obviously there's no such thing as a "murder survivor" - you could talk about "surviving an attempted murder", although since the murder was only attempted the clue is already there.

Hence I don't feel survivor is an appropriate word here. No-one would call themselves a "bike theft survivor"; they would be a victim of bike theft, even if they had clung onto the bike and put up a struggle.

That isn't to belittle rape, or compare it to bike theft in any other sense - I can't begin to understand how it must feel to go through it and I would respect the right of the victim/survivor to use any term they chose if it helps them - whatever gets you through. Perhaps someone might feel that rape does take something from their life and describing themself as a survivor goes some way to getting it back?


But I would worry that using the word survivor takes an emotive subject and complicate the matter further. We can't rationally discuss the crime of rape while in the back of our mind we are confusing it with murder. The word is inaccurate and generally I would chose to stick with victim.
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