Not Just Victims

Stamp collecting: magnifying glass shows image of Deutsche Post 1 Reichsmark (postage stamp issued 5/12/46), Author Heptagon (CC BY-SA 4.0 International, 3.0 Unported, 2.5 Generic, 2.0 Generic, 1.0 Generic)

“And if they stare
Just let them burn their eyes
On you moving.
And if they shout
Don’t let it change a thing
That you’re doing.

Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head up,
Hold your head high.”

–        “Hold Your Head Up”, C. White, R. Argent © Marquise Songs

A rock song from the ’70s by Argent has special relevance for abuse survivors.  Called “Hold Your Head Up” it is a reminder that we are more than just victims.

But abuse victims, by whatever name, are not known for valuing themselves highly.  To the contrary, we can barely raise our heads, let alone form a realistic view of ourselves.

The abuse to which we were subjected created a web of lies – that we were worthless, that we were undeserving of love or care.  Trapped in that web, we were denied hope, as the scars (our response to the pain) hardened around us.

Not everything we do, however, will stem from or relate to abuse.  If we focus on that aspect of our experience to the exclusion of all others, we will only enlarge the tragedy, allowing it to engulf our lives [1].

We have relationships, vocations, and beliefs:

  • We are sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. We are friends, lovers, and spouses. We are students, teachers, and mentors.
  • We are social workers, lab technicians, and police officers. We are doctors, lawyers, dentists, and accountants.
  • We are Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.

We have habits, preferences, interests, skills, and abilities. Some of us are neat-freaks; others do not pick up their socks. Some are dog lovers; others are “cat people”. Some of us are musical; others cannot carry a tune. A few probably play the banjo.

Though impacted by abuse to varying degrees, we are distinct individuals. We collect stamps or coins or recipes. We are history buffs and football fans. We lift weights and raise petunias.  We must not let the abuse blind us to that.

Above all, we have longings and aspirations which require a healthy self-esteem.

Unfortunately, a healthy self-esteem cannot be achieved by mandate. We must reconstruct our worth from scratch, basing it not on the abuse, but on God’s extraordinary love for us.

“…[N]either death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8: 38-39).

One by one, we must confront the lies we have come to believe about ourselves.

There is still reason in the world for joy, and we must seek it out.

[1] This is not meant as criticism of victims overcome by the suffering they have endured.


1 Comment

Filed under Child Abuse, Christianity, Physical Abuse, Religion, Sexual Abuse

One response to “Not Just Victims

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