It’s a strong word isn’t it. It really evokes certain images doesn’t it?
Domestic abuse victim.
What can you picture?
The first time I eluded to domestic abuse at work my line manager asked me if I’d been a victim of an abusive relationship. We’ve talked a lot about that conversation in the months since but the sticking point for him that day was that I paused before I answered his question.
He thought I’d paused because it bothered me, or because he’d overstepped the mark by asking.
In actual fact I paused because I don’t think of myself as a victim. Of anything.
So I paused because “were you a victim of domestic abuse?” Makes me want to say, well no actually. I’m not.
Yes I’ve been in a shitty relationship. Yes I’ve watched someone put their fist through a door in my house. Yes I’ve been told what to think and feel and been told that I’ve behaved in a certain way when I know I haven’t.
But am I a victim? Nope.
I don’t know when I decided that the word offends me, but it does. It actually really offends me for ALL ‘victims’ of controlled and coerced relationships.
I know people who have been emotionally abused, who have been physically assaulted, who have been controlled, manipulated and gas lighted.
None of them are victims. I am not a victim.
I hate gas lighting. And if you don’t know what it is then here’s a great description. It’s the worst, most overlooked behaviour of people who like to control.
Making us feel like we’re victims is the biggest form of gas lighting there is. Because it’s an effort to make people feel weak because of something that happened to them.
But it’s not what happened to you. It’s how you react.
Take control. That doesn’t have to look the same for everyone. Maybe it’s just acknowledging to yourself that you know what’s happening. Maybe it’s leaving. Maybe it’s telling someone.
For me, it’s talking. Owning it. All the time.
Because I’m not a victim. And neither are you.