Saturday, May 16, 2009

Violence, Victims, And Survivors

Via Xavier, I recently learned about the book "Meditations On Violence" by Sgt. Rory Miller. Based on his description of the subject matter, I ordered a copy and was tremendously impressed.

This book covers violence from the perspectives of the realities of how actual criminal violence varies from training or naive perception, what happens when we experience violence, and how successful and unsuccessful outcomes affect the intended target. Among the unsuccessful-outcome discussions, the author provides the best representation of rape recovery I've ever seen in print from a bearer of the Y-chromosome.

What the author says about trusting an instructor (or therapist) was profound. The most beneficial therapeutic work I ever did was with a psychiatrist who forced me to face the festering places, rip them open, and scrape out the rot. It was painful and ugly, but absolutely necessary. I had to trust him when he said I would survive the horror of facing what I had tried to block away. I trusted him, I did survive it, and I am a better, stronger person for doing so.

When going through a process, some realizations come with very visceral reactions, such as the time something clicked into place while I was driving to work. I had to pull over to throw up in the ditch alongside the highway. Some of the things I'd felt intuitively that Sgt. Miller put into words triggered similar strong reactions when I read them. And that's a good thing, because it meant somebody out there gets it.

The urge to stay a victim is seductive. Our society favors victims, cosseting them and setting up well-funded groups to be their advocates. These groups depend on a steady supply of victims for their existence. Government and law enforcement officials also depend on a steady supply of victims to justify expanding their power and control over every aspect of subjects' citizens' lives.

Staying a victim is also a passive-aggressive way to manipulate and control people. Sgt. Miller describes how such stuck victims can hijack a self-defense class. My family of origin was full of passive-aggressive stuck victims, and they very nearly hijacked my life. Now the only one of them I have anything to do with at all is through sending checks to her nursing home. I will not subject myself to her abuse any more, not hers nor anyone else's.

Stuck victims choose to define themselves by their damage instead of working to overcome it. They can build their entire lives around being a victim. I met lots of people like that during my active process. They only associated with other victims. They went to a different support group every night of the week, groups for sexual abuse, codependency, addiction, overeating, bulimia, you name it. They worked very, very hard at not getting better.

Years after I'd progressed beyond the need for a support group, I ran into someone I'd met at the one I'd attended for a while. She asked me when I had "moved back." Moved back? I never moved away. She said when I stopped coming to the meetings, the group decided I must have moved out of state. That the group meetings had served their purpose and I didn't need them any more was inconceivable.

We cannot always control what happens to us in life, but we are absolutely in full control of how we let it affect us.

Years ago, a sheriff's deputy suggested I needed to get a gun. I asked a friend and her husband who had been a firearms instructor in the Army and the Oklahoma State Patrol about it, and they recommended a .410 pump shotgun. In the finest tradition of "go big or go home," I got a 12 gauge instead. The rest, as they say, is history.

Becoming involved with firearms, making a full commitment to the responsibility of ongoing training and practice, studying firearms law and the judicious use of deadly force, all of these things put teeth in my resolve to be strong, independent, and never again go down without an effective defense. My gun gives me a fighting chance against bigger, stronger, faster assailants or multiple assailants. My training teaches me how I can avoid situations that could force me to present my gun. But if I need to use it, I will.

And anyone who would take that away from me has a vested interest in preventing victims from evolving into independent survivors.


Anonymous said...

Well said!

And B*B!

Brian K Miller said...

Nicely put! Especially this paragraph:

"We cannot always control what happens to us in life, but we are absolutely in full control of how we let it affect us."

Rio Arriba said...

That is one FINE post. It deserves much wider distribution.

EcoRover said...

You're right that Amerika sort of enshrines "victimology." My wife is a clinical therapist, and it's tought to get some people out of that hole. Or even to get them to quit digging.

JD said...

First, well said! Second, congrats on taking your life back. I can't imagin what you went through but have to say I have a lot of respect for your reaction to it.

Rory said...

Thanks for the review. Very rare, in my experience, to find a pagan hoplophile (outside the Asatru, anyway). The world feels a little less lonely.
Good writing, too. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Wow! First person with whom I can REALLY relate!!!

Victim? Me? NOT!!!...only SHALL I overcome, I DID, too, by removing a few people from my life as well. Blood ain't really thicker than water, they just say that to control some more.