Blended Family Chaos

by Tamara Flaherty

You CAN’T be a survivor without being a victim!

I’m going to try to tackle a sticky semantics issue here so please bear with me as I try to explain it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people being praised for “not being a victim.”
They’ve been profusely praised for being a “survivor” instead.

I’ve had people say that to me so many times over the years and I’ve never corrected them until now because I know that they mean well.

This is a common societal expectation. All you have to do is turn on Oprah or the news and soon you will hear about some courageous person who has been through some horrific event but who “refuses to be a victim”.


News Flash!!

You CANNOT be a survivor without being a victim!!

Let me put it another way. There are many people who are victims, who are not survivors, but there are NO survivors who are NOT victims.

Read that again!

The following definitions are from


“A person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.”


A person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died:
“A person who copes well with difficulties in their life”

While I do understand the well meant intentions of praising the survivor mentality over the victim mentality, (I mean really, no one wants to hear someone just whine about how hard they’ve had it), I do think that some important points need to be made.

Because so much praise seems to be given to those who are “survivors” and not “victims”, those individuals who are not “coping well with the difficulties in life” as a result of their injuries or trauma, tend to hide the problems they are having, so as not to be perceived as weak failures.

As if experiencing the normal effects of trauma such as


or a host of other responses is yet another reason for them to feel ashamed!

As a result of pressure to appear to be a survivor instead of a victim when in fact they are inseparable, victims may be discouraged from admitting they need help. This can delay or prevent them from ever reaching “survivor” status.

They just remain silent victims who become adept actors or actresses so others do not see and judge their “weakness”.

There isn’t a magic line that we can cross where the trauma has no more power to affect us. Some days we are more victim, other days more survivor.

I’ve realized that personally, I tend to lean more toward the victim end of the spectrum when I am physically sick or weak IMG_6529

or when someone in my life has hurt me or let me down in some way.
I then have to fight my way back toward the survivor end of the spectrum.

I am not a failure when this happens, it’s just par for the course for individuals who have suffered deep trauma or injury in their lives.

There is never a point in life where you have “moved on” or “gotten past” a major trauma or a series of traumas.

You can reach a point where you can stay on the survivor end of the spectrum most of the time. Reaching that point takes time, patience, healing, and a lot of work.

There is a sense of accomplishment when I am able to consistently stay on the survivor end without sliding back down, and the praise is nice when I accomplish that, don’t get me wrong.

Graduation 055

We also need to speak up and praise and support those individuals however, who are still on the victim end of the spectrum. Those who are staying in the battle and fighting through their sadness and grief yet another day.

Sometimes just staying alive is a major accomplishment!!

There are many valuable lessons that can be learned along the journey, but the journey itself is necessary to that learning process.

All the steps in the journey count!!


9 comments on “You CAN’T be a survivor without being a victim!

  1. Julia Hunsinger
    April 14, 2014

    Thanks for the post, very insightful.
    I have been pondering this topic a bit lately. I don’t see myself as a survivor or victim of breast cancer. I just see it as an event that redirected my life for my own good. I am better for it and now & I own an excitement for life that holds no bounds.


  2. djgourdoux
    March 25, 2014

    Just became acquainted with your site – this post is excellent! When did “victim” become a dirty word? Anyone with a chronic illness, no matter how “brave” or “courageous” feels this from time to time – along with the unnecessary burden of guilt that accompanies it – your post is very well written and very true!! (for my take on this topic, check out or – you may find them of interest!)


    • Blended Family Chaos
      March 25, 2014

      Thank you for the comment. I agree, it’s the blame the victim game, just with A kinda different twist on it. I’ll check out your post soon. Thanks!


  3. jen rotter
    March 11, 2014

    Very Awesome! It is so true. “To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”—Isaiah 61:3.
    God intends to make us victorious. He intends that we mourn for a time, grieve for a time and then rise above the ashes and shine the light, love, grace and mercies of God, That He might be glorified.


    • Blended Family Chaos
      March 11, 2014

      Beautiful scripture and thoughts to go with this! Maybe we should co-write. 🙂 thank you for the comments.


  4. Cynthia
    March 10, 2014

    Nailed it!
    Exactly how I think of it!
    That wasn’t an option so I didn’t vote!
    This is very well understood by me in my everyday life! If you ever think you’re above it… You quickly fall back into the victim lifestyle habits.


    • Blended Family Chaos
      March 10, 2014

      Thank you for always taking the time to read and comment sis! I’m really smart “on paper” lol


  5. Sandra Miller
    March 10, 2014

    Interesting! You have to have been there to know this! I am glad you brought this up!


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