Tonight I’ll be speaking and reading from my book SOUL COMPOST at fundraiser for 2 local women/girls organizations that promote empowerment. There is an expected crowd of almost 400 people who are coming out in support of girls and women. Having organized Tallahassee’s inaugural One Billion Rising event, I feel honored to be included as a presenter and am very glad to lend my support.
One Billion Rising celebrated our resilience, our bodies, etc. SO joyous, so life affirming, so positive. We had almost 400 people there dancing on a cold, drizzly February day and it felt like we were all in Hawaii to me.
It was interesting to note, though, that when I was interviewed as the organizer of the event and mentioned that I was a survivor of abuse myself and was so excited to see this many women coming together and so much press attention, the thing that I was asked over and over by the interviewers was… “So, you are a victim of abuse?” I kept trying to bring them back to the joy of the event and the positive focus on solutions and healing, women reclaiming their lives and their bodies. But it was like they could not let this idea of me being “a victim” go.
To be fair, I know it sells advertising to talk about the bad news. I know that in our culture we watch the news and see the pictures of folks on tv that have had something awful happen to them in their lives…and we put that tv frame around their faces which enables us to put them into a box….a neat little category of “Those folks that bad things happen to”….poor them….wow, their life is so broken, over….that won’t happen to me. And if it did, I sure won’t tell people about it because someone might see me the way I am seeing them right now.”
Maybe because of the cultural bias, I don’t like the word “victim“; it raises my hackles. I don’t like thinking of myself as a victim, because I associate it with powerlessness. And, I don’t know that it is healthy that we keep “victims” in their place by thinking of them that way.
This is not to put the responsibility for crime on the victim of crime.Of course it is the choice of a predator or abuser to NOT abuse. That responsibility lies squarely with them.
But I also know from my personal recovery of 25 years of healing that the journey from victim to thriver and service is a choice, too. Yes, I WAS a victim; I was powerless over what was done to me. In my healing, I learned that in order to move forward I needed to take my power back, and a victim has no power. Of course part of the process is to spend some time “being with” my powerlessness as a child, and it was appropriate. But I soundly reject the notion that I am a victim now.
This victim has been liberated. I have taken my power back.
I tell you that I am a survivor not for you to feel sorry for me or to put me in a category in your mind, because I am here to challenge your internal picture. I am a woman: strong, intelligent, loved, a great mama, determined, effective, wise. I may have been a victim when I was younger, but I sure as hell am not one now. I have moved, sometimes crawling by my fingernails, from victim to survivor to thriver to server and now to empowered server or leader. I am fortunate to be a messenger to a global audience of women since I started publishing 10 years ago, and my message is THIS.
YOU ARE POWERFUL. YOU ARE RESILIENT. YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL. You have GRACE flowing through you. Like Odysseus, you are the heroine of your own life’s quest to heal, and to take your power back, LIBERATE YOURSELF. You CAN MAKE GOOD of whatever happens to you because you are BORN TO DO IT. You CAN and if you choose it, over and over, you WILL.
Copyright 2013 Licia Berry
“SOUL COMPOST is a modern Iliad or Odyssey, complete with monsters, obstacles, and magical spirit helpers who guide a young heroine on her quest of healing, self-love and reclamation of her feminine power.” AVAILABLE in print, for Kindle and other e-readers here