The first time I heard the whole survivor thing I was at Incest camp. Okay, okay I’m being crass. It was a healing retreat for women adult survivors of child sexual abuse. We went around in a circle and introduced ourselves. I’m blah and I’m a survivor of Incest or sexual abuse or insert violation. I just said it cos everyone else did. I was 26, wide eyed, scared, deeply dissociated and naive. I just thought I could be done with all this stuff. I didn’t know how much there was to unpack.
I’m a survivor sounds like a power femme song, it is what we call holocaust victims, those who survive disasters or wars or earthquakes or car crashes or cancer or those that go on reality television programs. There’s nothing noble about child rape and blacking out and blood in underpants and dark skies and forgetting ones name. Survival kits – packed for harsh summers and stormy winters. For long hikes. For ocean adventures. Being a survivor is tough and fearless and it means you’ve been through something full on, that maybe most people wouldn’t get through. And yeah, I guess when I look at it this way, then I can say, I am a survivor of ritual abuse and extreme trauma and Incest and emotional and mental abuse and I survived by forgetting and dissociating. I haven’t survived the memories yet, I can’t remember the memories yet although there’s night terrors and bad days and ill feelings in my body that I survive each day and some moments, when the existential pain splits me open and I wander far away in my mind, I survive the onslaught. I seek shelter in the quiet space of my mind.