This past weekend, I was honored and blessed to be amongst runners, advocates, law enforcement, survivors, and supporters atthe Survive and Thrive Walk Event organized by CrimeSurvivors.org. This event, at the Orange County Sheriff Regional Training Academy, was beyond inspiring, it was downright exhilarating to see so many survivors, so much passion, and so much positive energy in one place.
As one of the featured speakers at the event I used the opportunity not only to be a cheerleader for survivorship and empowerment but to educate and advocate. My issue for the day was about the power of language and the importance of "word choice." The crux of the speech was distinguishing between being a "survivor" and being a "victim." I also used the opportunity to chat about the problem of semantics in human trafficking as well and how the wrong words further perpetuate the problem.
One can be victimized (and referred to as a victim in a criminal case), but my dream and goal is for all victims to become survivors. Victimization is not just a word - it is an entire way of thinking. Likewise, being a survivor is also a way of thinking. Both a victim of abuse and a survivor of abuse have gone through the same trauma, but how they choose to 'label' themselves post the event makes all the difference. A victim stays in a victim role and never moves forward to change any behaviors that might influence the feelings that they are suffering from. While one who has been victimized by crime cannot change what happened, they CAN change how they will react to it. Once a "victim" makes the decision to recover, they become a survivor who has the power to go on. Abusers do not have to win!
Words and misues of words can perpetuate crime, abuse, and misjustoice. Another example is in the case of Baby Grayson Vaughn. There is a small but vocal minority of supposed "father's rights" activists out there who haven been blasting my assertions that a mother has the right to choose adoption as a viable option for her unborn child. The words "father's rights" are being used to mislead in the media, the public, and particularly men.
Just because one advocates for a child does not mean that they are fighting against a biological father. In this case, I am not advocating against the biological father but rather advocating on behalf of the child. I have cut both biological and adoptive parents out of the equation, and am only looking at what is best for Grayson Vaughn NOW regardless of all the screw ups and problems with the court system. And unfortunately, when it comes to adoption you can't cut a kid up (split the baby so to speak), as only one person is going to be deemed custodial parent. To me whatever the case was in the past, it is NOW about saving a child from being ripped from his home and loosing the only parents he has ever known for the three short years of his life. You can read more about this case in my posted articles.
So for October it is truly so important that we come together to recognize that protecting ourselves and our kids starts with us. This month we mourn with those who have lost loved ones because of domestic violence, we celebrate those who have survived it, and we connect with those who work to end violence and injustices for children and parents everywhere!