There’s a thought-provoking post here about what we call people who have been raped.
For most of my life, people who were raped were simply “victims.” Then I went through training to work with those people – mostly women – and was told that “survivor” is the better term, because it focuses on their strength and agency. So I capitulated and used “survivor” to describe them and myself.
But it never felt right when I used it to describe myself. I have always been keenly aware when I say it that I am using someone else’s term. While I’ve obviously survived (in the sense that I didn’t die) and even thrived (I’ve been fortunate enough to accomplish most of my goals), the term “rape survivor” hangs on me like an ill-fitted suit.
I think I prefer to say I was a victim of rape, and that post does a good job of stating the why of that. For the most part, I want it known that was done to me was a crime. I only became a victim because someone chose to victimize me. Calling myself a “survivor” takes him out of the picture, and why should he get that benefit?
I’m curious what others think.
(That said, I support everyone’s right to describe their rape in terms that fit them best. I’m not out to convince anyone they should consider herself a victim if she doesn’t feel the word fits.)
- Healing from Date Rape and Trauma (casapalmera.com)
- Surviving Rape: What’s Next After the Assault? (drlauraberman.com)
- Rape Is Rape Is Rape, No Matter What It’s Called (thoughtcatalog.com)