The “V Word”

Credit: Lari Huttunen
Credit: Lari Huttunen

Not that V Word. Get your mind out of the gutter.

The other V word. It’s the word some people co-opt because this one time their mailbox got hit by the plow truck or this one person said something they didn’t like very much.

It’s the word that gives me a jolt of revulsion when someone uses it to refer to me.

Victim.

Gross. No, not just gross. Super gross.

I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate that word.

When well-intentioned people lob that word my way, I start swatting at my ears like I can knock it right out of the air before it hits my brain. (Go ahead. Try it sometime, but you’ll probably get hit by a flailing hand.)

I don’t see myself as a victim, so it’s wrong to hunker down under that label. That’s what bothers me so much about the word. It’s a label, and labels tend to dehumanize. I’ve had enough of that, thanks.

A victim lacks agency. A victim has something done to them. A victim is powerless.

I know some people would argue with me. So, let’s take a look at that word.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of VICTIM:
1:  a living being sacrificed to a deity or in the performance of a religious rite
2:  one that is acted on and usually adversely affected by a force or agent <the schools are victims of the social system>: as
a (1) :  one that is injured, destroyed, or sacrificed under any of various conditions <a victim of cancer> <a victim of the auto crash> <a murder victim> (2) :  one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment <a frequent victim of political attacks>
b :  one that is tricked or duped <a con man’s victim>

1: As far as I’m aware, I still have a pulse. So, I’m pretty sure that whole religious sacrifice thing was a bust.

2: Did I experience hardship and mistreatment? Well, yeah. But, that doesn’t make me a victim for one very big reason…

I left. I didn’t stick around and keep taking it. I made a choice, took control, and removed myself from the situation.

I’m not saying that was easy. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. What I’m saying is it was my choice to go. I could have stayed and continued to passively endure the threats and occasional attempts to burn me alive for being a whore. But, I was all, “Fuck that noise” and went to live next door to the Amish instead.

I know the other word you’re thinking of right now. You’re thinking, “Well, if she hates being called a victim, maybe she’d be happy with being called a survivor.”

Well, I’m going to be really difficult here and smack that one down, too.

That word carries a whole other set of baggage. A survivor is an inspiration to others. A survivor is resilient and tough. A survivor, what? Manages to not die right away? A lot of people manage to not die right away.

Am I resilient and tough? Sometimes, but not always.

Am I an inspiration? Gee, more labels.

What I really want to be called is the P word. Person.

I want to be a person who’s allowed to have the whole range of emotions that people have. I want to be able to be tough sometimes and depressed other times. I want people to understand that, yeah, some shit happened, but I lived a whole life after that. The shit that happened is part of what shaped me into the person I am, but it’s not all of what shaped me.

If you want to label me, call me obnoxious or call me snarky or bitchy or kind or whatever it is you see in me. Just don’t define me by what someone else did. That’s who he is; it’s not who I am.

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