How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

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Remedy
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How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by Remedy »

Hi all,

Having survived abuse in childhood I often sought out other peoples' life stories to relate to as it can be a very lonely experience to carry.

In the media in the UK, I've noticed several articles about prominent celebrities or sports people who have disclosed their trauma.

I am glad that people are speaking out about their stories and to have a public platform on which to raise awareness is a great opportunity.

However some common themes I've seen are: -

- Most often it is a 'rags to riches' story on how their trauma was overcome and they became award-winning successful people.
- Their stories are forgiving towards those who had a duty of care or overlook the societal / systemic disadvantages.
- They say mainly they wouldn't change the adversity they experienced because it made them who they are today.

I wonder maybe it is easier for us all to focus on the 'happy ending' and brush over the more painful truths about the world we live in?

I worry those few who do recover and go on to be exceptionally successful misrepresent the truth about how painful child abuse is to endure, how difficult in reality it is to escape from, the (lack of!) resources needed to learn to thrive again and the societal / systemic factors that disadvantage vulnerable children into being at exploited.

The focus is on the glory of the adult survivor, the voiceless child is just a distant part of their origin story which does upset me.

Just a few floating thoughts that I thought I'd put out there - how have your experiences been in coming across survivor stories in the media? Any particular themes that arise for you?

Thanks for reading and replying,
Remedy
Oceantide
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Re: How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by Oceantide »

Hi Remedy,

I've noticed the same themes in the U.S. as well. My feeling is that most people don't like feeling powerlessness. They don't like feeling their own vulnerability. So "happy ending" stories are easier to tolerate than the more realistic unfinished stories where struggling is present and ongoing.

This used to trigger me a lot. Either I've changed a bit, or some of the narrative arcs have become a bit more honest, or both. For whatever reason, I don't get quite as triggered any more. Those shimmering success stories can sometimes still leave me feeling lonely, though.

Take care, Oceantide
joyagain
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Re: How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by joyagain »

I do know what you mean...those rags to riches stories don't work for me...But, lately, I've been coming across those those with public statuses that presently have PTSD, OCD, chronic anxiety and/or varying mental health challenges, focusing the ever-ongoing process rather than any kind of achieved success despite. It's been refreshing.



Mary Trump on Substack "Change is Coming"
John Green Doesn’t Think the World is Ending (Yet) | Offline With Jon Favreau
The Real Reason Mental Illness Is On The Rise w/ Dr. Gabor Mate', on the Thom Hartmann Show

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"Doubt is a beautiful thing. I think when faith is true, it can be under scrutiny. And I think that's the greatest value of true faith is being able to question it objectively and still believe it." Tyler Henry
Harmony
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Re: How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by Harmony »

Let's remember our stories are our own. Our feelings are real. You are believed here at isurvive. Comparing one's own trauma to other's trauma is unhelpful at the least. Comparing one's progress or outcome is unkind to ourselves at the least. We survivors need mutual support not a prize for the worst hurt or best outcome. Your story matters. It is very normal to get tired and frustrated with the process.

We humans each live very unique experiences. Please be kind to yourself. There is no one right way to heal and/or transform one's life. Being open to change and persistence is what is required.

The survivors in popular media "happy" outcome stories may look good on the outside. Their lives may be different on the inside. It is hard work unlearning the harmful lessons of an abusive childhood. It takes time to heal. There is no magic instant fairy story. Real growth, change and healing are possible if you work at it. Because we are all unique there is no one single recipe to heal.

We each need different things. I hope each of you reading finds what you need.
Don't give up, there is healing.

with you,
Harmony
Remedy
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Re: How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by Remedy »

Hi both,

Sorry for my slow reply. I think once I posted the message I had a fear reaction for having 'spoken out' and froze when trying to return to see the responses although logically I very much knew the replies would be supportive. Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.

The ever ongoing process is key joyagain, I agree, as initially I felt I needed to be 'fixed' and thought therapy was the solution. Whereas a decade later I am accepting that the past trauma is something I carry, learn to live with and continue to process. Thanks for the recommendations.

I will hold on to the hope sent virtually in your message Harmony, thanks you! I echo your sentiments. I search the media for these stories when feeling insecure in the hope that I'll find familiarity and a sense of belonging. Sadly, media may not be the best place to be searching for this. Since my last post, I've joined a local community of people with a history of childhood abuse who meet once a month.

Interestingly, on Women's hour yesterday on the BBC they had a segment on post-traumatic growth which was informative and balanced. It was said that initial research overestimated the percentage of survivors who has post traumatic growth due to poor methodologies. They were honest about the impact on lives trauma can have.

Also, many interviews with people who had survived trauma and gone onto achieve exceptional success found that they sacrificed their personal happiness / social relationships to get to their positions in order to prove themselves or feel in control. Sadly, internally they were likely to be less happy than the average population. So a key take home for me was the strength of social connections was a strong predictor on how quickly someone who experiences trauma is to to recover from it.

I think after I escaped from the abusive environment I threw myself into work at the cost of personal relationships because I was still in fight or flight mode. I have in the last three years deliberately made changes to reduce work and focus on high-quality relationships with friends, family and my partner which, although initially daunting to learn to trust in others more, has helped my mental health a lot.

Over the years when I share my background, many people say to me, 'you wouldn't have been successful without that drive to escape' and I think it's true. For a while, I either invalidated my achievements, resented them or never really let them sink in as mine. I think when I hear stories of people who've gone through trauma celebrated for their prowess in rising above it, I worry that we are celebrating another humans' pain. It makes my abused inner child part of me feel unseen as wider society sees the success but not the origins. I'd much rather have had a safe secure childhood than become successful, to me it was just a by product of my gut feeling of wanting to escape.

Nonetheless we are where we are, the past is unchangeable but the future is flexible. So I try now to embrace the journey that I had as it is, trust that as an adult I'll now protect myself from any harm that comes my way and that I can go in whatever direction I hope to next with autonomy.

Hoping you are both well and thanks again for listening & responding.

With best wishes,
Remedy
Benjamin
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Re: How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by Benjamin »

Observing "successful survivors" who openly share their stories of trauma in the media can evoke a range of emotions. It can be inspiring and empowering to witness their resilience and the strength they demonstrate in overcoming adversity. Their visibility helps raise awareness, challenge stigmas, and provide hope for others who may be navigating similar experiences, fostering a sense of solidarity and encouraging a more supportive and compassionate society.
Last edited by Jonesy on Mon Jun 05, 2023 10:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Changed MT to NT, for no triggering detail
Oceantide
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Re: How do you feel seeing 'successful survivors' in the media?

Post by Oceantide »

Remedy wrote: Tue May 16, 2023 12:11 pm So a key take home for me was the strength of social connections was a strong predictor on how quickly someone who experiences trauma is to to recover from it.

Over the years when I share my background, many people say to me, 'you wouldn't have been successful without that drive to escape' and I think it's true. For a while, I either invalidated my achievements, resented them or never really let them sink in as mine.

I think when I hear stories of people who've gone through trauma celebrated for their prowess in rising above it, I worry that we are celebrating another humans' pain. It makes my abused inner child part of me feel unseen as wider society sees the success but not the origins. I'd much rather have had a safe secure childhood than become successful, to me it was just a by product of my gut feeling of wanting to escape.
Dear Remedy, so much wisdom here, thank you. I agree that social connections are key to recovery from trauma. I also, like you, invalidated or resented my achievements as simply being a reaction to my trauma. And like you, I'd much rather have had a safe, secure childhood than be successful. On the other hand, I've watched my son (who had a much safer childhood than I did, though not without its challenges) become successful for reasons other than trauma-response. I think sometimes inner potentialities and external support (along with luck or synchronicity) can manifest as success. Take good care, Oceantide
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