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Victim or Survivor. A Twitter thread by Ashleigh J Mills

“You’re not a victim, you’re a survivor.”

Can be a very damaging rhetoric for abused people who 1) are not yet at the stage of their healing journey where they can claim they’ve survived it

+ 2) don’t want to shift the framework of enduring abuse to one of survival.

For me, I know I wasn’t ready to take on survivor language when I was still being actively traumatised. CPTSD really messes with that, because so many situations were normalised to me.

I operated on a blanket of forgiveness - nobody ever *really* meant to harm me + any negative feelings were a product of my unforgiving spirit. So, the people who harmed me were forgiven instantly.= a plethora of weird disjointed feelings that I didn’t know what to do with. Mostly the guilt of them made me try “help” those who harmed me as enthusiastically as possible.

It’s been a long journey to recognise abuse & recognise that harm - even unintentional - is still harm.

Encountering neat little slogans like, “you’re not a victim, you’re a survivor”, were not helpful on that journey.

All survivors are also victims.

Being the former does not negate the latter.

Personally, I think it speaks more to self-advocacy. A survivor is aware of what they survived & recognises that they’re still here despite being made a victim.

Thinking it’s more beneficial to skip over ‘victim’ to ‘survivor’ can be actively traumatising. The internalisation of those concepts needs to be examined.

Mostly, a survivor implies strength; a victim weakness.

Going straight to strength-implying terms after abuse might work for some, but for others it’s just an extension of how they experience trauma + how they want to be Over It already.

Healing is so intrinsically personal to each of us.

But there are some linguistic pitfalls in the language used around victimhood, being a survivor, and healing that are important to be aware of.

A commodification of healing language can mean people misinterpret or be actively harmed by it.


It’s actually perfectly okay to NEVER call yourself a ‘survivor’.

The term has been commodified so much, honestly.

Maybe you need to always remind yourself that what happened to you wasn’t okay, or deserved, or something you can truly feel healed or moved on from.

Maybe part of your healing journey is situating yourself as the victim of abuse, very explicitly.

I know some days even considering the simple truth “I was abused” sends me reeling.

Whatever you need is perfectly fine, valid and important.