I think it's interesting how both words have come to mean different things from the original meaning. I chose to use "survivor" on my site because I liked the literal definition -"a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died." I liked that it was so neutral, surviving simply means that you're still here after the abuse. Over the years people have commented to me that they don't feel like a survivor, they feel like they just exist, and I'm like "That's what being a survivor means, you're still here." To me being a survivor is just step one. It's the base and it doesn't say anything more than you're still here, so from that base you can grow and heal, or not. In simple terms, you are a victim of a crime, and you survived that crime. I don't know why we've had to subject these words to all of these underlying meanings, but we did, and I agree that sometimes we avoid saying victim when we shouldn't.

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I appreciate you sharing this perspective! I definitely respect all perspectives about the language survivors prefer to use, I just wish the stigma that others assign to certain labels didn't make it harder for us to have true agency when choosing which label we openly use.

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Thanks for sharing this thoughtful piece, Rebecca. You make interesting points about what the term "survivor" obscures (namely, the assailant) and also what society demands of people who've experienced abuse.

To me, the term "survivor" obscures the harm of the abuse. It glosses over the brutality of the violence, and skips straight to the recovery. It's the term I use most often, but it doesn't always feel like the 'correct' term for my own personal experience.

I'm not sure there's a right answer, but I think it's important to respect every person's choice of the language that feels right to them in that particular moment.

I'm grateful for this piece and for the chance to think about these questions more deeply.

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