Saturday, 8 November 2014

Victim vs Survivor


Have you noticed how the BBC, when reporting on rape or sexual abuse, has started calling those who were abused 'survivors' instead of 'victims'.

Survivor, to me, indicates someone who has transcended the event; not all victims of abuse survive the ordeal, they can remain traumatised for the rest of their lives.

Victim: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.

Survivor: a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died.

Also, survivor: a person who continues to function or prosper in spite of opposition, hardship, or setbacks.

I guess it can depend on the dictionary you use as to the definition, and dictionaries are nothing more than someone's opinion - hence the different definitions.

However, that said, the use of the word survivor in the BBC, at least to me, is an example of imposed groupthink to perhaps engender a sense of empowerment in the victims. All who are subject to sexual abuse are victims; not all victims are survivors and to label them all as such is a misrepresentation (possibly with a hidden political agenda).

Perhaps the word victim has become debased now that we have the 'victim culture' and everyone is a victim of something (at least in their own minds) - a bit like the word 'hero' has become debased by overuse in grossly inappropriate circumstances.

Language is a funny old thing...

Analyse and discuss.


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