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Victim, Survivor, Thriver… A World of Difference…

Maslov1Partial credit for this blog must be given to the co-creators of the concepts discussed here regarding emotional healing. Barbara Harris Whitfield, an internationally known expert in mental illness, trauma and recovery is such a person. She, along with her MD husband, Charles, a renown specialist in trauma psychology and recovery,  have honed in on the stages of recovery as no one else has…whether based in illness or addiction. http://cbwhit.com/; http://cbwhit.com/barbarahome.htm;  Barbara Whitfield is a thanatologist- Thanatology is the study of death and dying.

One fascinating aspect of Barbara’s work was shared at the recent Melanie Ilene Rieger Memorial Conference against Violence, pertaining to behavioral differences in recovery from trauma (including violent crime).  The concepts were neatly packaged in a chart and timelines were not given (perhaps as “behavioral stages” are so individual).  As the theory goes, after having experienced a trauma, a person progresses…or gets stuck in a progression from being labeled a ”Victim,” then a ”Survivor, “followed by a “Thriver.”

To Ladyjustice’s delight, she discovered that…after all these years….having thought of oneself as a” survivor” when she really and truly is a ”thriver” in almost every category by definition and behavior….which  is soooo refreshing!

To illustrate: Following from left to right…. This chart speaks volumes to LJ…as she has felt it and lived it in so many ways over the years. However, one category in which LJ is supposedly “deficit” would be under the Victim “Places own needs last progressing to “places own needs first” as a “.Thriver.” This writer has always been a compulsive giver to others…which has a down side…. But it remains fulfilling… or why do it?  Yes… the whole diatribe about you feel unworthy— Rubbish!  This person just enjoys giving! No one can possibly keep up with this LJ women… and there is no such expectation for reciprocity.   However, giving does fill in the voids at times too! ‘But enough about me… Blah, Blah, Blah…

Take a look at these wonderful realizations below when you are a victim, a survivor and the ultimate graduation to thriving!  Is this another way to talk about post traumatic growth?  I challenge you to find where your behavior fits…’.Where you still need to go on your personal journey. Think about it!

And…remember, nothing is gospel…Nothing is one size fits all. Thank God!  Who knows this could be a great topic for “Shattered Lives.”  For now, Ladyjustice is going to bask in her new found “Thriverhood.”  Uh-Oh….… Do I have to change my website, or my branding name?

    From Victim to Survivor to Thriver


Victim Survivor Thriver
Doesn’t deserve nice things or trying for the “good life.” Struggling for reasons & chance to heal Gratitude for everything in life.
Low self esteem/shame/unworthy Sees self as wounded & healing Sees self as an overflowing miracle
Hyper vigilant Using tools to learn to relax Gratitude for new life
Alone Seeking help Oneness
Feels Selfish Deserves to seek help Proud of Healthy Self caring
Damaged Naming what happened Was wounded & now healing
Confusion & numbness Learning to grieve, grieving past ungrieved trauma Grieving at current losses
Overwhelmed by past Naming & grieving what happened Living in the present
Hopeless Hopeful Faith in self & life
Uses outer world to hide from self Stays with emotional pain Understands that emotional pain will pass & brings new insights
Hides their story Not afraid to tell their story to safe people. Beyond telling their story, but always aware they have created their own healing with HP
Believes everyone else is better, stronger, less damaged Comes out of hiding to hear others & have compassion for them & eventually self Lives with an open heart for self & others
Often wounded by unsafe others Learning how to protect self by share, check, share Protects self from unsafe others
Places own needs last Learning healthy needs (See Healing the Child Within & Gift to Myself) Places self first realizing that is the only way to function & eventually help others
Creates one drama after another See patterns Creates peace
Believes suffering is the human condition Feeling some relief, knows they need to continue in recovery Finds joy in peace
Serious all the time Beginning to laugh Seeing the humor in life
Uses inappropriate humor, including teasing Feels associated painful feelings instead Uses healthy humor
Uncomfortable, numb or angry around toxic people Increasing awareness of pain & dynamics Healthy boundaries around toxic people, incl. relatives
Lives in the past Aware of patterns Lives in the Now
Angry at religion Understanding the difference between religion & personal spirituality Enjoys personal relationship with the God of their understanding
Suspicious of therapists– projects Sees therapist as guide during projections Sees reality as their projection & owns it.
Needs people & chemicals to believe they are all right Glimpses of self-acceptance & fun without others Feels authentic & connected, Whole
“Depression” Movement of feelings Aliveness



©Barbara Whitfield 2003




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