Victim – Survivor – What comes next?

I recently recorded an episode of DIP in and out with Lucy with the fabulous Alice Smith

One of the things that came up in our episode was a topic that crops up more and more as time goes on.

And that is, what do we call individuals who feel the terms “victim”, or “survivor” of domestic abuse are not applicable to them?

I understand and appreciate that for some people these terms just don’t work – for a multitude of reasons.

So what can we suggest for those individuals who feel as though they are fumbling around in the dark, unsure if there will ever be a word that they feel best describes their experience?

I have worked with some amazing people who are trying to move forward with their lives having experienced domestic abuse. And I can completely understand why the terms above don’t suit everyone.

So the big question therefore, is what could the alternative be?

I have spent time in recent weeks thinking of potential alternatives from words like – Progressor  to Change Maker  – as many individuals who have been effected go on to work with those impacted by abuse in order to try and make a difference.

But no one word seemed to encompass everything. Except, in my opinion, the word…


Before the abuse and throughout the abuse the one thing that remained was that the person was human.

You Don’t Own Me and DIP in and out with Lucy focuses on the human being  – rather than the statistic. I will always say that statistics have their place and are very much needed to raise awareness and to action change.

But You Don’t Own Me is about those human being’s whose lives have been impacted by domestic abuse.

Because they were human when they believed that they were falling in love. When they forgave every single time they were abused and manipulated. They were human when they believed that the abuser could change.

And they were human when they started to see the hell which was their life. Unbearably human when they fought every battle they faced through post separation abuse. And they were human when they felt they were alone in all of it.

Being human was possibly felt most acutely, on those days and nights they weren’t sure they’d make it until tomorrow.

And, they were human when they started to see some glimmer of light in their life. Even if it was just one small step forward.

I think, being human is truly at the centre of what has been, what is and what is to come for the individual. Moving forward and progressing as slowly as necessary.

Now, just because I think that this is a good fit, does not mean it works for everyone. What works for one person, may not work for another.

So in answer to the original question:

“What do we call individuals who do not feel the terms “victim”, or “survivor” of domestic abuse are applicable to them?”

My answer is plain and simple.

Why does it have to be one word or term for a person?

The individual has been distinguished and categorized by the words “victim”, or “survivor” for so long.

Maybe the answer is to allow the individual to decide from now on, what word best describes them. Because, that word might change many times over the years as their life moves forward.

And that’s ok.

Domestic abuse, sadly, is constantly evolving. So why should one word define someone’s experience of it.

Give the individual the choice.

We all want to have choices in life and for those with lived experience of domestic abuse, having a choice is not as simple as many wish to believe.

Taking back control of their choices and life means everything.

So in my view, it’s time to let them decide.

If this blog resonates with you or someone you know, visit my Resources Page for useful links and support.
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