By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
One of our main goals with the See the Triumph campaign is to share the inspirational stories of survivors of abuse who have moved forward to create violence-free lives. We believe that sharing these stories is an important step toward eliminating the harmful stereotype that people are destined to repeat cycles of victimization once they have been abused. We also think that it is important to show how people triumph over abuse and can create happy, positive, fulfilled lives.
At the same time, we don’t want to minimize the challenges that survivors can face, because those challenges are another important part of the overall story of abuse and its impacts. In addition to the overwhelming number of stories of triumph that we heard among the participants in our studies, we also heard from survivors about the ongoing challenges that they faced, even sometimes years after the abuse ended. For example, consider the following participant statements:
First, we can learn that the impact of abuse is significant, and it can continue to pose challenges to survivors for years to come. Being abused is a very difficult and significant experience that we must never minimize or gloss over.
Second, these statements can teach us that survivors of abuse may need ongoing support from a variety of sources for a long time. We must continue to work as a society to ensure that these resources--such as competent, well-trained therapists and knowledgeable, patient social support networks--are available to all survivors.
And finally, we can learn that triumph is possible even amidst the long-term challenges that survivors may face. For many of the participants in our studies, the picture was not clear-cut, in that it is not as simple as saying someone either triumphs over past abuse, or they do not. In order to qualify for our research, participants were required to have been out of any abusive relationship for at least two years. Therefore, all participants had triumphed over abuse by that standard.
We think the important message from this complex picture of the possible long-term impacts of abuse is that survivors do not need to feel like they have everything figured out in order to know that they are triumphing over their past experiences of abuse.