We hear much about not victim blaming, the advise is to refrain from telling victims to "get over it", "to forgive and forget", "it takes two to tango" and all the invalidating empty platitudes people throw out.
You just feel worse each time you hear it, then it's the mental gymnastics of being polite to overly confident lay people who think they "help" you.
Here are some other things not mentioned.
Pressuring survivors to prioritise advocacy above their life goals, asking us to put our lives on hold for others, without any kind of reciprocity in return. This is done without understanding how going public with these issues means they're always drawing wounded people with various stressful behaviours, such as projection of rage, provocation, hyper vigilance, over reaction, etc.
This exposes survivors to re-victimisation, stressing us out even more.
Survivors have our own conditions as well as different levels of access, privilege and amount of resources. People often assume we have ideal environments instead of seeing our strengths, giving us credit for our labour.
We're not a monolith, we cannot function the same way, we can care about the same issues but nothing wrong with saying no to being pressured to martyr ourselves. Asking survivors to throw ourselves under the bus for the greater good is a dysfunctional thinking pattern that made us more prone to victimisation in the first place.
Survivors need to determine their own timing according to the guidance of a professional healer, around the secondary support of family, friends and communities.
As long as we're operating in good faith, doing our best with what we have, that's all we can ask from anyone.
Unrealistic expectations such as passion pay for advocacy is enough, when the reality is survivors are depleted in many ways, including financially, emotionally and mentally. They cannot reciprocate in any way shape and form, are not obligated to and shouldn't be expected to.
This does mean an advocate survivor's immediate needs aren't realistically going to be met, so donate to advocates or amplify if you want the work to continue, that's the only way it can work.
If not, then don't expect it anymore, there is a good reason why there're so few advocates.
Personal resources aren't infinite, we can all contribute in different ways, survivors are the result of a broken social system that benefit certain groups and victimises others. We're not random extra unlucky people who happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, meet the wrong people or draw the wrong people. The people who victimise us existed long before we met them and will go on to do the same to others.
We speak up for others, not ourselves, we don't heal by doing advocacy work. We heal by healing.
There is no such thing as someone inciting someone else to become abusive, we're proof of a system's failure to protect us and as such we're ostracised, swept under the carpet as untouchables, evidence of systemic oppression that must be eradicated.
We're evidence and having witnesses is no good.
Survivors must spend their time and energy rescuing other survivors even if they themselves rescued themselves using their own resources, even if they themselves didn't depend on anyone else, even if no one helped us and all we face is judgement and more judgement.
This is the unpalatable reality of healing, lay people try to help and often fail, professionals charge, the free info you see is mostly marketing, it isn't meant to give out enough information, purchase is the goal.
I paid for everything, I don't have free healthcare like people in certain countries and no saint fell from the sky to tailor make a guide for me to live my best life.
I try, stumble, learn and teach at the same time. It is all earned, invested and based on merit.
Each story is different, not everyone is surrounded by loving family and friends who understand, some are the abusers themselves, survivors often have no choice but to walk alone. Since we're usually victim shamed, demonised and misunderstood all the way, there's enough frustrations already, it's too much to ask people who need restoration to go above and beyond at the current point in time.
Expecting survivors to stay in a community of negative injured people with various chronic issues, forgetting everyone is looking for a healthy environment, even non survivors. Survivors must be around healthy kind people with resources who can help us heal, there's no good reason why everyone wants that and survivors are less deserving.
It is a need and not a luxury as well, no one wants to spend their time addressing pain unless they have to.
Guilt trip healed survivors to take on the responsibility of other people's pain. Helping doesn't require that, that is enabling. Resiliency is weaponised back as an additional burden to be placed on our shoulders, we're punished instead of rewarded for overcoming.
Placing survivors you view as strong on an idealised pedestal of invincibility, to look up to as a goal but not given credit like a regular person because survivors "should" do this or that, out of the kindness of our hearts, like we developed larger shoulders through out struggles, now are capable of carrying inhuman levels of stress.
No, we're normal people who get stressed out and overwhelmed like anyone else.
Should and must is control, things survivors need to understand as part of our healing, how it's not love driven but fear driven, it only rubs salt on the wound.
Control is the opposite of personal independence or any kind of social liberation, it makes everything much worse. Social problems come from abuse of power, control, avoidance and denial - these 4 main structures, so it's counterproductive to reinforce the same behaviours that prevent healing, it is being complicit in someone's personal and social demise.
We can't use the same things that destroy people to help them.
No matter how much you think someone should, our material realities don't change magically due to the fanciful whims of your speculative wishful thinking. Victimisation result in disabilities and chronic illnesses, trauma destroy our bodies, our minds and changes our lives for the worse, we're usually struggling in a silent invisible way no one else can fathom unless they've been there themselves.
Even then empathy levels vary between survivors, survivors can still compare suffering and refuse empathy to those who they view as having it good. Survivors aren't perfect saints, they can get jealous, they can be sexist, racist and grateful as well.
Going through a similar event does not guarantee the same outcome nor does experiencing the same form of victimisation result in the same level of progress for each person. Some have the finances but would never consider spending money on therapy, they rather go for vacations, it is not always a matter of not being able to pay, it's sometimes a matter of not seeing the value in someone's efforts.
Clarity is gained through education and hard work, like anything else.
The proportion of survivor advocates to survivors is dismal, so victim shaming is a deterrent to more coming forward, if you set people up to fail then don't complain "why she didn't report" or how if she doesn't, it puts you at risk, because she has already been the sacrificial lamb, it could have been you!
The lack of empathy fosters distrust instead, survivors must avoid people who lack empathy.
We do not need lectures on how we can do better, but concrete resources we can access. We need policy making, financial support for people who can't afford it, more safe houses and support groups manned by professionals, all these cost money, time and energy. There simply isn't enough to go around, so let's support as much as we can instead.
We do not need sermons on morality, civic duty and how "other people are suffering too", us suffering doesn't make them suffer less! Comparative suffering is based on fantasy, no one can feel the pain for someone else, no one can decide for someone else how painful is painful, no one other than professionals can truly gauge what is reasonable and that can take years of therapy, it is not as easy as people think.
Knowing our limits is based on personal awareness, that differs from person to person too, so don't expect people to always know when they hit it. Think about how many anxious people you know, how many people who misunderstood you, people are hitting their limits every day and a lot have no clue.
Crossing boundaries with survivors, emotional dumping under the disguise of friendship. Casual conversations can't just be that, they become life coaching or therapy sessions instead, any kind of normality is eradicated. Life coaching and therapy is a paid job, if a survivor wants to do that, it will be payment she needs and she will let you know if she wants to do it.
Devaluing survivor's contributions due to various forms of stigma, be it mental health stigma, stigma of rape survivors, stigma of survivors of childhood abuse, it is widespread. It is holding onto this fatalistic idea that we're forever broken, assuming we're all abusive or dysfunctional, criticising and condemning us instead of focusing on the positive attributes we have, uplifting us and actively amplifying us. It's so bad, it basically doesn't matter when we exhibit heroism, so why do we want to do what isn't appreciated again?
If you don't get it by now, you're definitely part of the problem.
Survivors can be wealthy or broke, privileged or underprivileged, emotionally rich or emotionally unavailable, more intelligent, more creative and more interesting than others. Trauma doesn't take away from our talents and earned experience in any field, our potentials are developed when we're given a chance to be in the right environment, don't fail to see all these things and make it a matter of personal moral correctness on our ends.
This being the case, it means I have no choice but to scale down on activism even if I don't want to. I have to self care more because I am not getting other care at all. Even doing that, I get accusations of selfish, greedy, blah blah blah, all negative.
Using survivors as benevolent feel good fixer upper projects to justify a need to be needed, only to disempower by taking over the narrative of our lives and determining when we need what for us.
Some things aren't because of trauma, we have personalities too, we could just not be liked minded and know we won't get along. Survivors also get to choose people around us, we're human, we get along better with some, we're not desperados willing to engage anyone and everyone.
Seeing survivors as pitiful beings, emotionally detach while intellectualising our situations, behaving like clinicians examining experimental lab rats, yet finding our victimisation isn't enough to offer unconditional love, whatever we receive becomes indebtedness instead.
Not just not helping but withholding empathy, affection or resources, wanting us to still seek approval during our depleted states, where we can barely keep our own heads above water.
Reinforcing the same idea that survivors already struggle with - that we're fundamentally defective, unlovable and worthless.
What it does is enable us to stay stuck, wanting us to revolve around an endless cycle of rescuing, instead of living, breathing and enjoying our lives, just like everyone else.
We deserve to meet other needs such as relaxation, rest, fun, creativity, imagination and laughter as well. What someone prioritise is private and changes over time, another person's disapproval or approval isn't a good reason for anyone to stop anything. We bear the consequences of our actions like everyone else, others do not, making decisions independently is empowering for survivors.
Survivors don't want special treatment, we want normal treatment, so we can normalise our pain, we don't want people to overdo it or underdo it. We want people to see past our pain and see the humanness inside us, recognise our redeemable qualities - courage, strength and the ability to love in spite of our brokenness. We want people to appreciate those traits that allow us to believe in ourselves, to offer a ray of hope during the darkest times.
Whether it's putting us on pedestals or throwing us into the gutter, we just want to live normal lives and be seen as normal people going through normal things that can happen to anyone else, not become political pawns, not be seen as omnipresent superhumans, not suspicious weak lazy bastards who instigated victimisation.
Normal humans with normal struggles, normal people with normal lives who want to be the best version of ourselves.
Eshet chayil, God is a she.
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