It can be extremely difficult to move on with life after you’ve been victimized. It doesn’t really matter if you suffered abuse at the hands of your parents, a caregiver, or a significant other. It can and does change who you are. I survived childhood physical, sexual, and verbal abuse. I also survived a marriage of more than 10 years that included physical and emotional abuse, coercion, and financial abuse.
So, if anyone has a reason to allow abuse to define who they are and to never do anything productive in life, it would be me. Yet, I’ve managed to move on in life. Not long ago, I was asked why it was when I speak or write about what I’ve gone through, I use “the abuse” instead of “my abuse.” The answer is simple and life changing.
Although the abuse happened to me, it was not mine. It was nothing I said, didn’t say, did, or didn’t do. Abusers abuse. It didn’t happen because of me. It happened to me. I didn’t do it. I didn’t deserve it. It is not “my” abuse. Learning to let go of the personalization and to refer to it as “the” abuse was a game changer for me. Yes, the abuse happened. Yes, it definitely changed me (in many ways). However, it is not something that has to define who I am. I am not a victim. I am a survivor. And survivors move on. If we don’t move on, we remain a victim. When we remain the victim, the abuser maintains power even if we’re not around them anymore.
It is not your abuse. Do not refer to it as such. Depersonalize it so that you can begin to move away from it. That doesn’t mean you forget it happened. It just means you are able to put it into context and begin to move forward in your life.