Victims/Survivors - Blame, Understanding and Responsibilities

by MaryLee Thompson-Saban

February 11, 2016


 I have been an advocate for children and victims of abuse for many, many years. I started wanting to help people when I was in grade school and volunteered to help tutor other students. That sense of volunteering and helping was something instilled in me by my father, and it has lasted for nearly 70 years.
One thing that developed in me early was wanting to reach out and understand someone else, and not only help them pull themselves up, but understand the why behind whatever their problem or behavior. I took the normal psychology, sociology and other classes in high school and college. One little item has stuck in my mind since I was a child. It is a small plastic wall plaque that Dad hung in our house (now in mine) that read “Never judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.” So when I say I do not understand something, could you explain? I truly mean I want to understand and to know.
Years later after overcoming and escaping an abusive marriage with my children and myself intact (although I spent 24 hours/7 days a week for years to insure my children would have the least amount of scars as possible), I took classes and training in domestic violence. I was a volunteer advocate for some time, working with victims of domestic abuse, rape, incest, sexual molestation (involving both girls and boys as victims). I can’t say I have seen it all, but nearing 70 I have seen a great deal.
Someone asked me once if I advocated forgiving an abuser. Perhaps, and perhaps not, but I do try. I do not advocate forgetting. I also advocate learning and growing. I also say that the ultimate judgment lies in the hands of our Creator, by whatever name you choose to call Him. Jesus taught that whoever harms a child will have a millstone around his neck on Judgment Day (paraphrased). And I firmly believe that. I have NO tolerance for child abusers and molesters, slightly more perhaps for those who hurt or harm adults. But it is not in my power, nor do I wish it to be in my power, for me to be The Judge. I also believe that society has turned a blind eye for far too many generations on abuse of all kinds, on the violation of the basic laws God set out for us - The Ten Commandments. I have never understood why it is so hard for some people to follow those. Enough said on that.
Over the years, I began to formulate another line of thought. What about the life after trauma? A victim either remains a victim or becomes a survivor. At that point, the choice belongs to the person, not the abuser. What responsibility then does this victim/survivor have to herself/himself and to others? Some people never grow out of being what they perceive as a victim, and they learn to use the “victim card” to their advantage. They do what they want, when they want; but when confronted, inevitably it comes out that the abuser of years long ago is to blame for their behavior. No, let’s get that straight. The abuser was/is to blame for his/her behavior at the time. The victim has to have time to heal, to ponder and to grow. But then the choice becomes the victim’s. Any person of adult age, and even older children, is responsible for their own actions despite whatever has happened in the past.
Today we are seeing this same trait played out in things like the “Race Card”, the “Religion Card”. And they do not accept responsibility for their own actions. It is an epidemic in society, and unfortunately has been for millenia.
But back to a more individual area, many people fail to grasp the concept that no matter how we are raised, no matter what happened as a child or as an adult, we are each responsible for our actions going forward. For whatever twisted reason, so many have chosen to blame a parent, a sibling, a friend, whatever and will live their entire life blaming. They start to develop an attitude of it is a world of eat or be eaten. And to that end, they will do whatever they feel is necessary to survive even if it goes against all morals, God’s laws and people’s civil laws.
So where does responsibility lie? Responsibility lies with each and every single person, not with anyone else no matter what anyone else has done or said. And along that line, so many people have differing memories of the same event. From good to evil. My Dad used to say that there are three sides to every story - your side, my side and the true side. Sometimes God is the only one who knows the true side. Other times, if people would listen more and talk less, they would learn the other human side of the story.
Perpetual Copyright established 2016, by MaryLee Thompson-Saban

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