Being open about traumatic events is not attention seeking.

Surviving horrific events such as child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assaults and sexual harassment is difficult enough. Yet the survivors who choose to speak out are often labelled as ‘attention seekers’.

This doesn’t change, regardless of the survivors status. From everyday people to those who are in the public eye. Even at times, the #metoo campaign was regarded as attention seeking. A-list celebrities were accused of using it as an opportunity to put themselves back into the limelight. From my own experience, I have found that time and time again, others would rather silence me or change the subject when I choose to speak up.

Yet what others do not seem to understand is that speaking out is essential. Not only is it important for those who lack the understanding to learn about the realities of these ordeals, in order to prevent it from happening to their loved ones, it also plays a vital role in a survivors recovery. For example one of the adversities that I faced was growing up with Domestic Violence. Ending up barricaded in a room to stay safe was a normal occurrence in everyday life. I learned to fear dominant men and came to the false conclusion that the behaviour my father exhibited was exactly how a father was supposed to be. They were to be feared and it was expected that they would cause harm to you. It never even dawned on me that this was not how everyone else spent their time at home. Not until recent years at least.

Children are a product of their environments. They learn from your teachings and the world around them. Those who grew up not knowing any other way of life, usually go one of two ways. One is to retract into themselves and deny that the abuse ever occurred. The other is to be curious and confused about why their upbringing was so different to their peers. They tend to question their own beliefs and the world around them. If this upbringing was so wrong and a violation of one’s human rights, then why did nobody step in? Why were they left to live those so important formative years in terror and in fear? Even bouts of jealousy occur. Why didn’t anyone else have to live through this? Why weren’t we entitled to a childhood like everyone else? You are haunted by that one word… Why? It’s a word you learn to hate. Everything about what you’ve experienced will always lead you back to why.

This is part of the reason why survivors chose to speak up. They’re not asking for your pity or for you to feel sorry for them. What happened can not be changed but there will be long-lasting damage. All a survivor wants to do is understand. Yet this society we live in denies them of that by silencing them. Surely by silencing a survivor, you are just as bad as their abusers? It is still a controlling hold over them. These topics should not be a taboo anymore. It happens to way too many people for it to be one. Yet public response is to victim blame or ignore the voices that are so desperately trying to be heard.

This society needs to listen to survivors. For a society, so advance, it is so far behind in these horrific social issues. Their voices are a tool that can provide understanding and education. They have experienced the unimaginable. Rather than treating a survivor as an outsider, why is society not listening and taking their experiences onboard? It could change so much. Schools and employers could be shown what to look out for that is not based on outdated information, the authorities would learn how to handle these situations with more compassion and understanding, tougher sentences could be enforced. And maybe if attitudes towards survivors change, more survivors will come forward to report crimes or they might even have the courage to leave their abusers sooner. You never know, this education might just save a life.

Welcome to Eyes Of A Survivor

It took a long time to realise that everyone has the right to a voice. It wasn’t until halfway through University that I finally learnt that this also included myself. I then realised that I could put that and my experiences to a good use. This site intends to help survivors unlearn the deceit and lies through providing help on what other survivors have found useful and to educate those around you.

Why did I decide to do this? The older I become and the more of the world I see, it becomes more and more apparent that violence against women is still such a taboo subject and that most would rather it was not mentioned. Regardless of the fact that in the UK alone, 1 in 4 women will have experienced domestic violence at least once in their lifetime. Approximately one billion people worldwide, that are alive today, have grown up being involved in or witness to domestic violence. This impact has an adverse effect on the psychological development of those subjected to this monstrosity. Even with these facts, our society still fails to accept that violence towards women is one of the largest social issues globally.

There still seems to be this outdated belief that unless a woman has a black eye, then nothing is going on. Just like with the excuse of how a woman dresses seems to translate into ‘her asking for it’. It’s about time that society is educated on the reality of violence towards women. Including the long-lasting effects on all involved. Even throughout my own quest to unlearn the lies that I learnt as a child is that very few will allow you to speak freely on this subject. Whether this is society themselves or even practitioners who are ‘trained’ in these situations. Both would prefer to see me stay silent. (Being Northern it’s usually impossible for us to stay quiet when we have something to say so this doesn’t help.)

With what seems to be a result of this inability to understand, there still is, even today, a lack of support for survivors (yes survivors- not victims). It’s 2018 and Survivors are still being referred to as ‘battered women and children’. Even the UK Government plans to remove funding from short-term supported housing. 53% of the charity Refuge has funding come from the housing benefit that the government is wanting to cut. This proves that even our government doesn’t understand how vital a shelter of safety is let alone understand why sufficient support is essential.

Over the next few weeks, I will be writing about why those who have experienced adversities prefer not to be described or labelled as victims along with what is a more suitable term.

“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.” –Mahatma Gandhi