Introduction to Victim or Survivor Series

The article that follows, ‘Victim or Survivor? A Deeper Look into the Question’, is in six parts. This is revised and considerably expanded from the previous version which I posted on my blog a few weeks ago. I suppose it may expand and change still more in the future, as there is much to say and to write on this subject. I hope that comments and contributions shared by others will help me clarify and improve my writing about experiences of domestic abuse, which so deeply affect us as individuals and as a society.  Information about definitions of abuse, statistics of its occurrence in ‘first world’ countries and elsewhere, and many books, articles and websites on related topics are widely available. I am not attempting a comprehensive treatment of the subject of domestic abuse; instead, I want to discuss the terms, ‘victim’ and ‘survivor’ as they are used and applied in situations of domestic abuse, along with the concepts behind these terms and the attitudes that they represent.  

I use the terms ‘partner’ and ‘partners’ reluctantly in this article, because I believe that true partnership is a mutually respectful, caring relationship between equals who work together for their common and individual good and happiness. Abuse destroys partnership; true partnership is incompatible with any act of subjugation, denigration, intimidation, or harm by one person toward another.   However, the term ‘partner’ is commonly used to indicate one person of a couple of adults living together in an intimate relationship. Because I am generally writing about relationships in which cohabitation is the common factor, but marital status, levels of relationship and stages of commitment vary, I feel that the term ‘partner’ is really the only applicable designation that works for this article.  I hope that everyone reading this will stop to consider the ugly irony and disgrace of ‘partner’ abuse, of the terminology we use to speak about it, and of the fact that through much of our common usage (such as calling an abuser a ‘partner’) we are actually perpetuating lies about partnership. That is only one facet of the underlying mass of harmful attitudes about this issue, which I hope we will contemplate together and try to resolve.

My article deals with abuse and violence perpetrated by men against their female partners. While I am aware that domestic abuse also occurs between same sex partners, and that there are some cases in which women abuse their male partners, I do not have adequate knowledge of the similarities and distinctions that exist in those situations to write inclusively. Nevertheless, I hope that victims of same sex partner abuse and male victims of abuse by their female partners will benefit from what I have written. I trust that anyone who has been victimised will come to understand the ways in which concepts I write about apply to them and the ways in which they do not apply.  

Likewise, I do not attempt to discuss the less prevalent situations in which abuse and violence are mutually perpetrated by both partners. I feel that the points I make in my article are valid; all are based upon my own first hand experience and upon stories I have heard from others in similar situations.

To read more about my personal experience of domestic abuse and life afterward, please read my blog article titled, ‘On Storms, Light, and Finding the Centre’, which was posted on ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­9th January 2008 on my blog at­ I am writing anonymously to ensure my continued safety.            

Because I think victims of domestic abuse are often being advised by counsellors and other professionals who lack a thorough understanding of the issues involved, I hope that I and others who have suffered can begin to be heard. It is not easy to risk disapproval while we are vulnerable. But we must speak out—as soon as we have begun to recover—about what kind of help we need, and conversely, about what kind of ‘help’ is not helpful, even demeaning and harmful to us, in many cases putting us at further risk. 

Please take the time to read all six parts of this article, even if you believe that some sections (on Counseling, for example) are not relevant to your situation and needs. You will find that the concepts and situations I discuss do apply to circumstances in which most sufferers of abuse find themselves at one time or another.  I hope this article gives some fresh perspectives on topics that are widely discussed, and particularly on aspects which have received little attention or none at all. 

Please, write your thoughtful, well-intentioned comments using the facility provided by Live Journal at I will not engage in heated arguments and angry debates. We all need to learn respect and kindness as we dialogue on any controversial subject—but, on the subject of abuse, nasty and vindictive attitudes toward each other are particularly intolerable, in my opinion. There is far too much healing to be done!

That being said, I would deeply value any comment which is intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful toward me and other victims of abuse. Thank you for reading and considering what I write. It will mean so much to me if it inspires you or touches you, or causes you to consider something in a new way. It will mean so much to me if they inspire you or touch you, or cause you to think about something in a new way. 

Most of all, thank you for anything and everything you may choose to do to stop abuse in our world.  


I would deeply appreciate your written comments on this article. Please do not hesitate to leave them for me at the URL address below.  Thank you for reading and considering what I write. 


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