Are we victim blaming when we discuss post trauma growth?
Since I changed my writing focus, I have been honored to connect with leaders, coaches, and individuals in the domestic violence awareness and clarity space. Many of these individuals are affected by domestic violence in one form or another.
They are all passionate about raising awareness and creating space for victims to heal and grow and for perpetrators to get accountable, repent, and change.
In the last couple of weeks, there have been many “you’re victim-blaming” movements on their platforms, and some of the same commentaries have just started on my Facebook page. (Victim blaming is when victim of a crime or any wrongful act is held entirely or partially at fault for the harm that befell them.*)
(Ps: I first shared this update on Facebook, where most of these conversations are taking place. )
First, if you are new to Intentional Today and don’t know it already, I am mostly church-facing. I am fiercely pro-victim AND church-facing.
By that, I mean you’ll see me making observations and commentary on evangelical and conservative Christianity and encouraging/imploring reflection and exploration of how we can be more Jesus-centered and people-helping rather than people-harming.
If you are a victim and discussions around religion are an area of tenderness, my words might not fit this season. (We’ll talk about seasons below.)
I don’t block you or delete comments because we disagree. Looking at past posts, you’ll find comments where people see things differently, where we had a conversation, and we move on, and that’s okay. However, it’s only a conversation if it’s an actual 2-way thing and there’s room for reflection and genuine edification in the convo.
I no longer do deep discussions with anyone who claims I’m doing something I am not. For example, if I’m not victim blaming, I will not accept that I am and will not be trying to “prove” anything. That doesn’t mean I’m not learning or I’m not open to new ways of thinking or even educating on that. I’ll do my best to have clarifying dialogue. But I have limits.
I want to re-share the following update, which I shared a few days back around victim-blaming/shaming. I’m sharing my journey with a chronic health condition, what growth has looked like, and what we can learn about growth in general. In the comments, I’ll add a reading resource or 2 to check out.
At some point, if flourishing is the goal, motion will be required: and we don’t move without a level of introspection, exploring/rediscovering values, empowering systems, and giving those things a voice externally.
Five years ago, I became home-bound with a condition which, among other things, made parts of my body stiff as a rock. I was in pain 24/7, but any movement brought spasms and extra fire licking up my joints. For 2+ years, my life revolved around the bed, couch, and doctor appointments.
Muscles atrophied. Limbs shrunk. Pain multiplied. Brain fogged.
In my then pain-filled life, it was broken to me by a kind, compassionate chiropractor, in the course of our therapy, that applying some weight and movement to my body would not stay out of the question in the future since regaining mobility, health and a pain-free life was my goal.
Right there and then, though, there were other immediate goals: like diet changes, figuring out how to interrupt pain loops, mind-work, myofascial release, etc
But to go back to life as I once knew it, I slowly began to accept that muscles don’t grow back without some form of weight work on them – even as simple own body weight in the form of brief gentle walks. Joints don’t fully heal without movement.
You don’t put weight or movement on a broken body. (Some doctors said I should, and I tried, and it resulted in hell.)
Therapeutic interventions, safety, and stability first. But to get limbs to their OPTIMAL shape, eventually, weight/movement had to be added.
The space between where we are and where we want to be, the flourishing and thriving, is filled with introspection and personal growth.
“Growing” was not the same as taking responsibility for the illness in my body or the double-injury from flawed medical interventions.
All my growth, from survival-mode, to where I am today (and I’m still on that healing path), was about what I had control over in terms of getting my broken body, mind, and soul to a healthy place.
Lots of introspection, learning to honor my body, dietary changes, removing toxins, inspecting specific cultures and experiences which contributed to my distressed life, sinking into Belovedness are amongst some of the things I needed to explore.
None of it was about taking responsibility for what happened to me. It was about where I wanted to be and what it would take to get there AND thrive there.
Victim Blaming? Why Seasons are a Thing
Sometimes we’re in a season of survival, taking one breath at a time, doing all we can to pull through. And that’s important and oh so important. Our bodies are actually created with survival mechanisms for that specific purpose. To see us survive seasons of high stress.
But survival is not all there is to our lives. There are other seasons.
If you are in survival or near survival state, there’s another season ahead. Knowing that another season exists, where something else will be required of us, is not blaming or shaming. It’s just another healthy piece of information.
We don’t have to act on it now (please don’t act on it if it’s not the season for it), and we don’t have to rush our nervous systems to process information it’s not ready for. We can have boundaries around that too.
As mentioned earlier, here’s more education from abuse recovery coach Sarah McDugal. Sarah is a survivor and warrior in this space, and I love how she breaks down truth and concepts in compassionate and informed ways.
- An update and encouragement on the different stages of healing and how not to get stuck in one stage.
- An update on post-traumatic growth/self assessment.
Seasons of Healing: Mapping Your Post-Trauma Journey | Workshop w/ Sarah McDugal
Do you know which season of healing are you living through right now? What does your mind and body need most in this particular season? Do you know the four growth pillars of healing? You can reclaim your voice from the silence, embrace your identity as a survivor, not a victim and recognize patterns of harm and more. Aff link Access Now.