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What is a survivor?




Being a survivor means recognizing that the trauma from the initial assault reached beyond that particular moment and left a set of psychological, emotional and physical repercussions that must be addressed and processed. People of any age or gender that experience sexual assault, child abuse, rape, incest or any sexual act against their will are commonly known as assault victims. They are forced into the 'victim' category which has connotations of fragility and naivety. The term survivor connotes an act of deconstruction and renaming which is a catalyst to aid in healing, moving forward and regaining control. Being a survivor is being at any point after that recognition point and taking an active role in the healing journey. The book Quest for Respect describes in more detail the process of transitioning from the victim to the survivor stage of healing.


Table of contents




  • To be a survivor is to have the courage to fight for one's self and the strength to overcome obstacles to healing.
  • Overpowering conflict by mental, physical or moral force.
  • To be one who is taking back control over their lives, taking personal power back to oneself.
  • One who has survived a crisis situation.



What it means to be a rape survivor:

  • "The idea is to rescue myself from the role of a victim, that I have a choice left. Though I can't change what happened, I can choose how to react. I don't want to spend the rest of my life being bitter and locked up"-- Tori Amos
  • "Being a survivor means staying committed to the blossoming of my life, while I continue to cope with the damage done to me in my past." anonymous survivor
  • "To rename myself from victim to survivor has been incredibly significant in my own healing process CSA (incest), I don't see myself as a fragile, isolated victim anymore but as a strong and brave survivor. Calling myself a survivor is showing pride in my strength to cope and live through what I was forced into at no fault of my own." anonymous survivor
  • "Survivors create an extended support network where fellow survivors are understood and discuss the aftermath of their experiences in a safe environment." anonymous survivor
  • "The word "survivor" means:That I have had the strength to endure the worst; That I have refused to let them destroy me; That I did what I had to do, to come out alive." anonymous survivor


See also: victim, victim's rights amendment, feminism


External links





  • Bass, E. & Laura D. (1994). The courage to heal: A guide for women survivors of child sexual abuse. NY: Harper Collins Publishers. 585p.
  • Blume, E. S. (1990). Secret Survivors: Uncovering Incest and its Aftereffects in Women. New York: Wiley and Sons.
  • Braswell, L. (1992). Quest for Respect: A Healing Guide for Survivors of Rape. USA: Pathfinder publishing.
  • De Becker, G. (1997). The Gift of Fear. NY: Bantam Doubleday.
  • Easteal, P. and McOrmond-Plummer, L. (2006). Real Rape, Real Pain: Help for Women Sexually Assaulted by Male Partners. Hybrid Publishers.
  • Jon A. (1999). Coping with Trauma: The Guide to Self-Understanding. USA : American Psychiatric Association.
  • Maltz, W. (2001). The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors of Sexual Assault (pp 53) Harper NY: Collins Publishers.
  • Matsakis, A. (1996). I Can't Get Over It. Oakland, CA : New Harbinger Publications.
  • U.S. Dept. of Justice. (1998). From pain to power : crime victims take action. Washington, D.C. : U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime.





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