Warrior…or just a Survivor?

I saw a sad story that ended with a very sad form of “victory.”

I was reading a post about a young women who was raped. Stories like that are chilling and mournful, and nothing justifies it. But as the story went on, it went down a rather unusual turn.

Basically, the girl was so shaken from the event that it caused a whirlwind of doubts, fears, and questions in her mind, as often happens. She said that the event made her question everything about herself, including her own gender identification. As her thoughts spiraled and spun, she eventually decided that society had forced her to view herself as a female and is now going through a process to become a male, including testosterone injections.

Now, whether gender confusion/change is right or wrong is a whole different issue and I don’t want to debate it here. The thing that struck a rather odd chord with me is that this young woman views this as a triumph, even calling herself a warrior.

I’ve heard stories similar to this before, about how society forces us to think we are a certain gender and how you need to find out who/what you really are and live like it, whether society likes it or not because only you can define who you are. Again, that’s not the issue I want to debate here, mostly because that’s not actually the issue. This wasn’t a response to society, this was a response to abuse, and that’s what confuses me.

You say this man’s horrid actions caused you to question everything about yourself. I believe that; the psychological trauma of sexual abuse is incalculable. But then you changed yourself, drastically, and are continuing to do so. This man hurt you, and in response, you changed yourself. But by changing yourself, you gave him more than he took from you. You allowed his influence and assault to change who you are, and the sad thing is you’re starting to blame society.

A couple of disclaimers here: I’m not trying to say society is perfect–it’s very much not perfect. I’m also not trying to downplay your pain; I can never understand what you’re going through and would never tell you it was your fault. But you see, that’s my question: it’s not your fault, so why did you change yourself?

And why do you call yourself a warrior?

In this post, you said getting through all this makes you a warrior. With the utmost respect, I disagree. Getting through it makes you a survivor. Fighting back makes you a warrior. You have survived, you have pulled through, you have sought help, and you are trying in your own way to address the pain and the issue instead of ignoring it or blaming yourself, and those are all great. But you have yet to fight.

A survivor does just that: survives. It means you do whatever it takes: throw the cargo overboard, abandon ship, ration resources, et cetera, going to any ends just to make it through, and it’s commendable. But a survivor does nothing more than survive.

I’m going to go on a limb and I’m going to do my best to be delicate here. It seems to me that by changing yourself into a man, all you’re doing is trying to ensure that what happened to you never does so again. You said yourself that people look at you differently now that you’re changing your physical appearance, and from what I gathered, it was comforting. It sounds to me like you’re hiding, aka, surviving.

I’ll say it once more: I don’t want to downplay your pain. I’m not saying “Suck it up and get over it,” I’m not that naive. I’m not saying you deserved it, I’m not saying what he did was okay, and I don’t know whether you fought that night or not. My point is you’re not fighting now.

A warrior is a fighter. A survivor will back down or stay down to make sure they live, but a warrior gets back up and keeps pressing forward. Warriors are not immune to the world, and many warriors I’ve seen were raped. I know one girl personally who was raped and you would never know it because she fought back against the pain and the sorrow and refused to let it own or define her. I remember a picture a friend posted on Facebook of a girl who had been assaulted wearing jeans and a T-shirt with a sign that said “This is what I was wearing; don’t tell me I deserved it.” That was a warrior. That was a young woman who refused to be told she should have done something different, but fought to change the cruel men of the world instead.

I’m not saying it’s easy, in fact being a warrior is infinitely harder than being a survivor. That’s the point. It’s easy to shrink back, to hide, to try and alter the circumstances of the few things you can control. But a warrior stands taller, walks father, and changes the world around himself/herself.

You are the victim, not the villain. Don’t tell yourself that you were wrong because you weren’t a man. Tell the guy who attacked you that HE was wrong because HE was not a man.

Perhaps I am mistaken and I am open to rebuff, but from what I gathered, I saw pain and I saw fear, and I could bet anything that deep down, you don’t want to escape and hide, but to stand up and fight. And I pray that God gives you the strength to fight, because he stands up for the abused, and he comforts the wounded. May justice be served, and may healing be complete.

So, to all who are reading this, do you think you are a warrior, or just a survivor?

Who Cares What I Think? What Do YOU Think?

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