“I refuse to be called a victim. I am not defined by what happened in my life. I am a survivor, defined by how I live my life.”
Adrianne Haslet-Davis, Dancer, Boston Marathon Bombing Survivor
I saw a video where a young child was carried into a pool by his mother. She let him go about a foot from a life line and encouraged him to paddle to the rope. He made it there and then clung to it for dear life, kicking, screaming refusing encouragement from his mom to release it. After this went on for what seemed like a few minutes then he finally exhausted himself and let go. He stood up in the water and looked around and, realizing that he was safe, smiled.
As a woman, there are many things that will throw us into the pool unprepared and confused not knowing which way is up. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse, self-doubt, low self-esteem – only to name a few. Add to that, as woman of color, racism and marginalization. You can feel like you are screaming in the dark and that darkness holds your screams and creates a voice in your head telling you that you are not worthy.
It takes tremendous strength to realize that these things do not need to define you – only you can define you. We may be tired from what we have been through but we need to realize that all of that kicking and holding on made our legs and arms not weaker but stronger. All of the silent screams actually strengthened our voices rather than silenced them. We can reach out to our family and friends or professionals, whether publicly or privately, to share experiences and stories or simply write them down in our private journals – all serve to help us release those fears and thoughts. Then we can surprise ourselves by putting our feet down on the firm ground below us and realizing just how much stronger we are not as victims but as survivors.
“I can be changed by what happens to me. But I refuse to be reduced by it.”