Attribution: Flickr – The Survivor by Jose Maria Cuellar
It’s a strange title I know, but it is something that has occurred to me after reading about #MeToo and the fact that most are calling themselves victims instead of a survivor.
So what are we – the abused and absent parents, are we victims, whose voice should be heard? Or are we survivors – to be forgotten, while we have come to terms with our loss and have moved on?
Let’s look at the Oxford Dictionary for a bit of help
A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
A person who is tricked or duped.
A person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment
A living creature killed as a religious sacrifice.
Leaving aside the last definition, the first three are relevant, especially the third. There are many absent parents that cannot come to terms with what has happened and live their lives – if that is what you can call them – always in terms of what has happened. The first statement fits as well – how many of us have been emotionally harmed by what has happened to us, through no fault of our own.
Now let’s look at the definition for survivor:
A person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.
The remainder of a group of people or things.
A person who copes well with difficulties in their life.
The third definition fits to those of us that have tried to move on with our lives, but arguably the first definition, a type of ‘living death’ also describes what all of us are feeling who have no access to our children, or who have had their own flesh and blood turned against them
I would describe myself as a survivor, having been able to move on, remarry, bring up my stepson, live again. But at the same time, I also feel a sense of betrayal. In moving on, and stopping to fight in the courts for access to the children, accepting what has happened I have given up. In surviving – a natural human act, I feel I have betrayed my own children.
I think what I am trying to say is that I have never stopped being a victim – I have survived where sadly others have not. I along with thousands of others have been harmed, emotionally abused and sentenced to a life without those we hold dearest – our children.
Being a survivor is important – surviving is a primaeval instinct but in accepting this fact, it for me devalues what has happened in the past – what made me a victim of the conscious acts of my ex-wife. It enables those listening to you to simply say ‘They will get in touch when they are older. You have survived.” and move the conversation on to other things.
I see now that I will never stop being a victim, and state that I simply ‘survived’.