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Because Surviving is about Living

21 June 2019
Written by

Deva Vasuda

About the step from victim to survivor.

Karin Bloemen said: "She thanked me for saying the name of the perpetrator to her therapist for the first time. This may seem like something small, but believe me, that's great. "

Karin Bloemen wrote a book about the incest in her life and said the above sentence during an interview about this. A client indicated how this helped her in mentioning the name of the person who abused her.

I can believe her. By saying a name, the perpetrator can be seen. A possible start for you to get the offender to take the right place in your system.

"What ???", you might think, "after all horror, does the perpetrator still have a place in my family system ???"

Yes. He or she is doing that against will and thanks. The horror has provided a connection. And (just as) with blood relatives it is very difficult to 'cut through' this band.

So there you are. With a connection that you do not want. Someone who occupies a place that is bothering you. Because you do not want this person to "belong" some where at all.

It can be very healing to look at this. Where is that place in the system for the perpetrator? What happens when this is adjusted? What happens to the place where this person used to be? What will replace that place? Where should someone really be? We literally visualize it by looking at it systematically.

We apply the Systemic Work method to avoid having to relive such a trauma in all overwhelming pain. We work with "image" as the starting point. Through small manageable chunks we will move towards that piece of healing.

This process is not only familiar to me because of my work. Also through personal experience. For three years I stayed in a violent relationship. When this was behind me, I kept feeling a first automatic 'no' when mentioning the name of my then partner. My thoughts were often: "What if he hears about this? What if he comes back to get a story? Am I at risk again? "

It is about learning to experience that there are safe situations to be allowed to talk about it. Without ending up in the situation again. I, too, have felt how nice it is that there are not necessarily unpleasant consequences when something comes up in "images". To change silent fear into talking in trust.

It is helpful to take the time to conscious look at your emotions. It takes a courageous heart to accept these. The heart of a survivor.

The following questions can help with anxious thoughts that go hand in hand with a process that is so vulnerable:

- What is the current situation you are currently in ?;
- What are your emotions ?;
- Where do you feel that in your body ?;
- What are your thoughts ?;
- Which are not helpful ?;
- Which are helping ?.

Questions that we also include in exciting moments during a session.

A start to break free from being a victim. To see what it brings to experience the difference from victim to survivor. Because victimization is so persistent that it can hold you in its grip and prevent you from living. As a survivor you are damaged, deeply hurt and so on. Yet as a survivor there is more room to live. Because survival is about life.

The partner I am talking about has since died. When I heard this by chance, I initially felt a huge relief. I can't see him anymore in this life. That feels like a liberation.

At the same time, he is a beloved father and leaves children behind. I feel a genuine compassion for them. In the first moment that I received the message of his death, I felt that I had already moved from surviving to life for a while. The victimhood has disappeared.

However: nothing is black or white. It is about daring to feel, being able to live consciously and moderately. There was still a bit of "survival" in my "life," which is also apparent from my relief.

Live through, live through. That is what I do. In the most possible  'healthy' way. Just like Karin Bloemen, the client I spoke about. And many others. We live through processes by living. With that, the circle is round again and survival can be purely about life.

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