Most people get confused when we say someone is a survivor. We hear about sexual assault survivors and domestic abuse survivors all the time, but who precisely is a survivor, and what does it imply when we use this term to describe someone?
This seems like a worthwhile question to explore today.
As per the definition of the National Crime Victim Law Institute, a survivor is “a person who overcomes hardship, keeps going, and perseveres; also, a person who is resilient and never gives up.” While overcoming a distressing event is a good thing, it can have serious long-term effects on our mental and physical health.
Even though experiencing trauma is awful, you don't have to carry it with you for the rest of your life. And now, if you’ve finally decided to take charge of your life and reached the survivor hood stage, you must know that overcoming abuse-related trauma might look difficult, but it is possible.
Here are five things you may do to health from past wounds.
1. Acknowledge the effects of trauma
The after-effects of trauma and unresolved grief are often complex and difficult to understand. The common reactions may include overwhelming emotions, anger, guilt, confusion, frustration, eating and sleeping disorders, panic attacks, depression, suicidal thoughts, flashbacks of domestic/sexual abuse, mistrust, and substance abuse.
The first step to healing yourself mentally from such strong feelings is acknowledging them because awareness leads to tolerance. If you are a trauma survivor, you need to accept your painful emotions because it better equips people to cope with them.
2. Understand the importance of healing
You haven’t overcome your trauma if you’re not fully healed. Healing sets you free. Our body feels lighter, our mind is focused, and our spirit is elevated. Everyone’s journey to healing is different, but we all should have the same goal: to let go of the pain of the past and move on. People can help themselves and others more when they undergo the healing process.
Healing enables people to focus on themselves and their unfulfilled dreams. With healing, survivors can take their attention away from all the negativity and misery. Survivors also start getting comfortable getting help from their loved ones and developing healthy relationships. Healing also helps survivors relieve pain by finding new avenues to cope, such as returning to an unfinished project, working out, supporting other trauma survivors, etc.
3. Shift your mindset
It is highly important for trauma survivors to openly talk about their suffering and feelings of powerlessness as it helps them to work their way through the stage of victimization and enter the survivorhood stage. However, you need to ensure that you don’t develop a victim mentality and start seeing everything from the victim-tinted glasses.
What does having the victim mindset do to you? It causes us to feel weak, helpless, and hopeless, leading to low self-esteem. It gets hard for us to move on because we feel stuck in the past. Therefore, one needs to shift her/his mindset from a state of lack to growth and positivity because to receive better; you have to be better.
4. Embrace positive affirmations
A person who has endured abuse for a long period needs to reprogram their subconscious mind to heal and move on. An important mental health tip for survivors is to replace all the negative things the world and abusers tell them with positive statements. This can be done by starting each day with positive affirmations like ‘I am loved,’ ‘I am strong,’ ‘I am beautiful,’ etc. It is a great way to change the narratives toxic people have written for you.
5. Be comfortable with asking for help
Last but not least, help other trauma survivors and ask for help when you need it. Know that asking for help doesn’t make you weak, but it shows you are open to receiving help to leave a toxic situation that isn’t serving you. Consulting a reliable mental health expert specializing in trauma can be a great step. Don’t hesitate to talk to a trusted family member or friend. If you need professional help, you can contact People Against Violence and get the help you need.
Healing has gained a lot of attention in the current times but has not been put into practice frequently. It is high time that people who experience trauma on a physical, emotional, and psychological level prioritize their healing and inner peace.