Changing the Narrative…

Survivors of the Titanic
Survivors of the Titanic

If a rose by any other name would smell as sweet (Shakespeare) does it matter if we use the label “victim” or “survivor?  For those who have not experienced trauma the difference may seem like semantics, but really it isn’t. Victim evokes pity and survivor evokes empathy, and perhaps respect. Therefore, if you have experienced trauma, which label would you want applied to you?

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, I want to share something with you…20 Photos that change the Holocaust Narrative…check it out and then come back (don’t forget the coming back part!)

I think the point of those pictures is to help Jewish people, and the rest of the world to think of Holocaust survivors as just that…survivors.

I do use both terms…I might talk about “Hitler‘s victims”, because “Hitler’s survivors” wouldn’t make sense. Besides saying “Hitler’s victims” seems to better illustrate my disgust for him. On the other hand, I would also say survivors of the Holocaust, or Anne Frank and Corrie ten Boom are two Holocaust survivors I really admire. In that sense, I would feel as if I were insulting them to call them victims.

Changing the Narrative applies to all survivors of trauma.

I have been pondering lately, on how people might perceive me and my sharing of my story.  Do they, I wondered, see me with pity as a victim?  I hope not, that is certainly not my intent!  I share because:

  • I lived with silence most of my life, but no more
  • I want to help other survivors know they are not alone
  •  to give other survivors courage to hold on for one more day if that is what they need
  •  to  try to lessen the shame of being a survivor of abuse, particularly sexual abuse
  • to lessen the shame of being in therapy…for years
  • to lessen the shame of mental “illness” such as PTSD, and DID

Make no mistake, I am not a victim…I am a survivor.

Photo attribution Library of Congress courtesy of Flickr Commons


  1. Like.
    “The Messiah cometh in the fulness of time, that he may redeem the children of men from the fall. And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil; to act for themselves and not to be acted upon.” Victims are acted upon, survivors act. David A. Bednar refers to this principle in almost every talk he gives.

    I agree with him that it is one of the most important ungirding principles of truth. We can act: choose to accept, choose to believe, and choose to obey. Then our freedom to choose and act for ourselves increases. Then we can reject feelings of shame, discouragement, then begin to hope.

    …there’s a can of worms: hope. I’ll save that for a Wednesday morning.

    • I agree because I know you agree that healing takes time. Acting is hard. Yes, necessary, but hard. Rejecting shame is hard. It’s a long, but necessary process. I look forward to Wednesday. 🙂

  2. I agree if we are saying that we are victims as long as we are under someone else’s control then survivors once we are free. There is that often overlooked third stage: thriver. We go into that stage when we realize that the experience really, really, really was for our eternal good and we are able to fully integrate it so that it becomes a joy bringing part of us.

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