There are words, and then there are words which we hear all too often in this day and age. Notable mentions going to 'YOLO' (the use of which I may still be guilty) and 'bae' (still not entirely sure what it means); but the real star of the show here is 'victim'. We're all 'victims' of something and this deprecating language not only encourages people to pity us but also makes us look weaker than what we have overcome.
So you're a victim of bullying. You faced or are facing abuse - be it verbal or physical - and this is making your life very difficult. You wake up unhappy, you go to bed unhappy, generally you're not doing so well. But a few months or years from now it'll have stopped. You won't be unhappy anymore and you'll have come out better for it. Are you still a victim?
You're a rape victim. Someone took your body without your consent and violated you in ways you may never get over. They left you fearful and broken and full of hate. You will always be looking over your shoulder or wondering what this person's intentions are, never letting anyone too close to you. But because of all this, there's no chance of it ever happening again. You move forward with your life and use what you've faced to help others. Are you still a victim?
In no way am I ridiculing what people have been through. Bullying, rape, even things like being cheated on damage us all in some way. But do we really want to go through life being labelled a victim? The word 'victim' connotes frailty. It says 'handle with care', 'don't push it', 'poor thing'. Do we want to be looked at that way just because of an isolated incident that happened through no fault of our own?
Your experience makes you a victim, but your story makes you a survivor
You're only a victim if you didn't come through it, and although some days it feels like you'll never fully heal; you are so much stronger than you ever would have been without whatever you have survived. I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason (although we may not always understand at the time), and the way you deal with the cards life throws at you defines which category you fall into here.
So do we want to be seen as weak and damaged, or strong and brave and inspiring? I don't know about you, but I have no desire to be seen or to behave like a victim. We do not overcome the things we do to be met with pity. So do we fall victim, or do we survive? I know which one I prefer.