Thursday, November 17, 2011

Victim vs Survivor Journal Activity from "Resurrection After Rape" by Matt Atkinson (see Resources tab)

So I started reading this book again. I'm going to make me do the journal activities. This is the first one. I'm sure I'll have more to add later on.
"What is the difference between a Victim and a Survivor? How do you think you will recognize the point when you have transformed from victim to survivor?" (p. 15)
A Victim is defined by her pain. She is still being victimized by the act that left her a victim in the first place. She is held hostage by memories, by hurt, by experiences. She copes ineffectively or not at all. She doesn't have hope of healing. She blames herself. She may feel numb about her R or SA or CSA experience, being able to talk about it as she'd talk about the weather.

A Survivor is who she is because of her pain and because of what she has been through, but she is not defined by it. She continues to live and function despite it. She has recognized that she deserves to heal and can begin to take steps to see this happen. She likely still struggles with self-blame, but she recognizes, intellectually at least, that she wasn't at fault. She is hopeful that healing is possible.

I will feel more like a survivor when I can say that it wasn't my fault and mean it; when I can direct my anger where it belongs without feeling guilty; when there is emotion attached to my story; when I grieve for what was lost; when I am no longer afraid to tell my story to people around me (after I wrote that, I thought, will this ever happen? would it even be good or healthy?)...


  1. I'm working my way through the book again - actually just downloaded it onto my phone! I'll be answering this question in next couple of days too :)

    I really like your answer. Have you thought more about the practicals of how a victim and survivor differ? Do you think you could recognise either behaviour in yourself or others? What does being defined by trauma look like, to you?

    You don't have to answer those or share your thoughts.. Just wanted to send something that may get you thinking further :)

    How do you feel after doing the exercise?

  2. Good questions, Tara! Hmmm...I think I would be better at recognizing the behaviors in others, rather than myself. I am often (as many people are) a bit tougher on myself and tend to see negatives more than positives- this is something I am working ok :) Being defined by trauma, I think, is being wrapped up in it, that point where it is all we think about- and not being able to move forward in a productive way. A victim might be in a phase where she constantly reviews an incident in her mind over and over, a survivor has found coping skills (such as journaling, grounding exercises) and a support network to remember and learn from the memories when they come up without being eaten up by them.

    After doing the exercise, I felt sortof relieved, like, "Hey- first exercise down and it wasn't so hard at all! I can do this, I can learn from this book!"

  3. I wanted to ask you guys... do you think this book would be helpful to those who may not have been raped, but have been sexually assaulted, or have experienced CSA? Or is it pretty specific to rape (however the author defines that)?

  4. I would say that the book would be beneficial to SA and CSA victims and survivors, not just rape. The free .pdf is available here:

    I'd say it's worth taking a look at at least :)


  5. I'm so glad I just came across your blog. I recently started reading Matt Atkinson's book, too. I have working through his exercises as well and so far have found them very helpful and his manual very insightful. I'm doing his activities in conjunction with just general journaling. Anyway, I look forward to reading through the rest of your blog.


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