Not Just Victims

Birdwatching in Panama, Author Alex Poimos (CC BY-2.0)

Birdwatching in Panama, Author Alex Proimos (CC BY-2.0)

“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.

Originally posted 2/23/14



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

13 responses to “Not Just Victims

  1. Monochrome nightmares

    Yet another excellent post Anna.

  2. Most of the time, it seems hard to see beyond abuse. With powerful posts such as this backed up by the experience of the author and with a huge dose of faith, we can go forward equipped to be our authentic selves, not victims and live the life that was truly meant for us.

  3. tabitha59reachingout

    I too am an overcomer, Anna, yet I still have a very long ways to go. Your posts are a wonderful tribute to the grace of God on you and the wisdom He has placed within you. I am only just beginning to see how such hardships, can and have been …. with great care, become stepping stones to a far better future than if we had merely embraced the lies told us and the treatment given to us. We are indeed overcomers through Christ who has redeemed us from all evil. ….. May God multiply His grace and wisdom in your dear life. Hugs to you, sister. 🙂

  4. What a great word, and anthem for us, Anna–thanks so much for always encouraging me!! We must not enlarge the aspect of abuse, but seek God and what He will DO with the ashes that He desires to make Beautiful in us for healing, and for His Glory–this will bring us JOY. God bless you so abundantly!!

    • Glad you liked it, Delyn. 🙂 Part of what is so amazing about God is that He is capable beyond our imagining. We are not in this struggle alone.

      • I LOVE that–truly we can’t imagine the scope of His ability and His desire to step into the worst scenes of our lives. Always appreciate the reminder that “we are not alone”–oh, such balm to my soul. Thank YOU ❤

  5. KJ

    I know this is an older blog entry but I have to tell you that it blessed me. Thank you. We ARE so much more than victims! We are survivors.

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