We Shouldn’t Force Women To Identify As Survivors If That’s Not How They Feel

It's okay to be a victim, and it's also okay to be a survivor. We need to let people choose.

It's Okay To Be A Victim

by Hannah Agbeni |
Published on

Yesterday, Toronto-based illustrator and writer Hana Shafi (@frizzkidart) posted a new illustration on Instagram. The illustration showed a hand with cuts on from holding onto a blooming (but thorny) yellow flower. Above the words ‘All survivors are brave. All victims are brave.’ The post serves as an important reminder that anyone who has experienced sexual trauma has the right to define themselves on their own terms.

And it’s completely intentional. Just a quick scroll through her account and you’ll see that Hana’s work promotes self-love (see her 'affirmation art') and shows love to all women’s bodies (instant follow!). She touches on mental illness, tackling misogyny, and body positivity in true #feministart fashion.

In the caption, Hana explains 'No survivor/victim is cowardly and it's their choice what they want to do with their story. You may also wonder why I chose to include the word "victim." Not everyone who experiences sexual violence or intimate partner violence feels like a "survivor." If we want to approach this issue in a "survivor-centric" way, then we can't impose the same strong, recovery, survival narrative on every person impacted by sexual violence/IPV. '

Over the past few years, social media has played an important role in helping move forward the discussion on sexual harassment, abuse and consent. As a result of the #MeToo movement, women are able to come forward, leading the charge and ensuring that there are systems in place where those accountable can be held responsible for their actions. Countless stories have been shared by women across the world in solidarity with one another but what about women who choose not to speak up? They’re there too.

The point is clear, that there are women who don’t see themselves as survivors, who don’t see their trauma as something that needs to be conquered. Yet their experiences are still valid and I think that’s something we can all learn from.

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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