When I look back at my life thus far, it seems every segment of it has been defined by a label someone gave me. My biggest mistake, was letting myself believe they were true.
My childhood labels were generally harmless, imposed upon me by adults, teachers mostly. “Distracted”, “talkative”, “class clown”, these words only served to define more once I felt like there was some of kind of title to uphold.
As puberty hit, so did the bullies. I’d have welcomed those harmless labels from years past any day over the new ones: “slut”, “fat”, “ugly”. I knew deep down this was just the pain and suffering of others being projected onto me, and I certainly knew deep down they weren’t true, yet I wore the shame along with those labels anyway.
At the first Victor Walk in 2013, I went public for the first time about the trauma in my past. At first, it was a show of support for the group of strong strangers surrounding me, all sharing their story in unity. But soon after, it was as if a weight had been lifted, it became fuel for the fire I was burning as an advocate for change, and proved to be a huge leap in my healing process.
“Helping is healing.” ~ Theo Fleury
Those words have proven to be exceptionally true for myself. But even as I was making huge strides in healing and happiness, labels got in the way again.
“Victim”, “survivor”, these labels tarnish the hard work that I’ve done. People feel comfortable labelling me based on my experiences. But what many don’t realize, is that these labels give power to my abusers, and take the power away from me.
I don’t need to be called anything, I’m just me, and my past does not define me. But if you must call me something, you can call me “strong”.
— Written by Amber Craig
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