Monday, June 23, 2008

A Survivor's Manifesto

Survivor's Manifesto

I'm in one of those moods so here's my Survivor's Manifesto. If I repeat myself, it's intentional:

1) Don't judge where I am. You don't know where I started or how complicated my journey has been.

2) Don't pity me or assume I'm fragile or flawed. I may very well be stronger, more resilient, courageous and creative than you are.

3) Respect the courage it took to survive.

4) Respect the resilience I've shown becoming who I am in spite of the abuse or trauma I experienced.

5) Respect the creativity and intelligence I used to survive.

6) Expect the best of me AND believe that ultimately I can do anything I choose to do—including fully heal.

7) Don't assume my emotions are a flaw.

8) Laugh with me.

9) Don't give glib answers or ideas. I KNOW deep down what I need to do next.

10) Don't freak out on me, no matter how horrible it was, I DID survive.

11) Don't minimize what happened or ask me if I want a book on Christian forgiveness. If it felt
bad to me it was. I'll forgive if and when I'm ready to do so.

12) Set limits that protect you and understand that sometimes I won't know what those limits should be—BUT I CAN LEARN.

13) Accept the boundaries I set. You can negotiate but don't cross those boundaries unless I agree.

14) Understand that I won't tolerate bullies.

15) What matters is not what you intend but how it feels to me.

16) I'm not a patsy. I may go extra far to be nice and keep things calm, but try to take advantage too much or disrespect me and I'm gone.

17) I'm just as smart, courageous and resilient as you are and maybe more so.

18) Just because you don't get it doesn't mean I'm wrong!

19) I'm always questioning my assumptions and working to change and improve my life—are you? If not, don't ever be condescending or act as if you're superior to me!

20) If you want my trust EARN IT!

21) Just because you don't want to believe it could happen to nice people or in families like yours doesn't mean I should stop telling the truth.

22) Treat me with respect. I don't care who you are or what your credentials might be or what success you have achieved in life. I'll stack my courage, resilience, strength and creativity against yours any day.

23) I am the expert on who I am and what I need. You may not believe that and sometimes what I say or do might contradict what you think you know but there is no way you can have as complete access to who I am and what has happened to me as I do. TRUST ME.

24) Trust me to know what I need to do next.

25) Trust that I am doing the best I can every day of my life.

26) Trust that I can and will heal.

27) Trust that finding joy in my life is the surest way to my creating a happy, healthy life—NOT scolding or blaming or otherwise feeling bad.

28) If you want to help, TRUST ME.

29) If you want to help, BELIEVE IN ME.

30) If you want to help, encourage me to see my successes and strengths NOT focus on my weaknesses.

31) Never, ever encourage me to wallow in my pain! I don't care how angry I get, remind me again that you believe in me and that you believe I can heal NO MATTER HOW BAD THE PAST MAY HAVE BEEN.

32) What seem to you like weaknesses may actually be the foundation of my strengths.

33) Treat me with respect and kindness and trust and look for the best in me because that is what every human being deserves.

Wishing for each of you reading this post respect, kindness, trust, and people who believe in YOU.

Sending blessings and safe and gentle (((((((hugs)))))),


Enola said...

Number 11 and Number 25 - I can relate!!

Good list

keepers said...

These are super and so right on. Keepers would like your permission to use some of these for our summer project of framed sayings, with Author credit of course! These are extremely well done and well said.

peace and blessings


April_optimist said...

Thank you, Enola and Keepers. And yes, Keepers, you have my permission.

Clueless said...

I just loved this. It made me feel empowered, but also angry and sad because I can't say some of those statements and mean it. However, I think I'm going to copy it and past it somewhere.

jumpinginpuddles said...

we so agree especially the not minimizing us aspect and the christian forgiveness

Kahless said...

Really really good list.

keepers said...

Thank you!!


April_optimist said...

Thank you, Clueless, JIP, Kahless and Keepers.

littleflute said...

#18 is fantastic! wow. we can really relate to that. thank you for posting this manifesto.

April_optimist said...

Little Flute, Glad it speaks to you. And yeah, I like #18, too. Not what we heard growing up but...

eden said...

i would like to post this list (with a link of course) on my survivor message board for the members to read. i hope that's ok!


April_optimist said...


The more people who see it the better--with the link back to my site and credited to me. I wrote it in hopes that it would inspire others to feel their own strength and resilience and courage.

healandforgive said...

I Love this!

I also posted a link to your Manifesto from my blog.

Thank you for a powerful list!

April_optimist said...

Heal and Forgive, Glad you found it spoke to you. I think sometimes we're too quick to look at our perceived flaws and too slow to give ourselves the credit we deserve.

Karma said...

I LOVE this and may, with your permission, hand it out when I teach about sexual violence.

April_optimist said...


Absolutely! The more people who see it, the better.

Alanis Rae said...

Absolutely beautiful. It made me feel empowered and also made me look at how far I have left to go, because I can't mean all of those statements.

I'm going to link to this on my blog. <3

April_optimist said...


I'm glad it spoke to you.

lynette said...

what an amazing and inspiring list! i have just discovered your blog, and i plan on visiting often.

thank you for writing :)

Mark said...

Excellent list!

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Now my question is: Do I need to believe it or need to get others to believe?
What I mean to say is:Is This manifesto said for self not necesarrily for others?

April_optimist said...

Thanks Lynette and Mark.

Little Sun, It is for both. It's empowering for us to believe these things and it's also something I want other people to understand--because we don't live in isolation and the attitudes of others can and does affect us at times.

Grace said...

Hi April, remember me from twhj-c? I came to visit your blog and I love this manifesto! Awesome! I have a blog now, and I want to link to this. You have a wonderful talent for expressing things in words.

blessings to you

Emma Matthews said...

Excellent - powerful and spot on.Please can I copy this into the 'favourite quotes' section of my blog?