I remember watching an episode of Criminal Minds years ago. There was a girl who had been assaulted. One of the techs made a comment about how the girl was lucky. Her injuries were minor.
One of the main characters retorted back, “Do me a favour. Don’t tell her that she’s lucky.”
And that’s just it. We shouldn’t be pressured into being grateful we’ve survived our abuse. We shouldn’t have to be grateful they let us live, or our injuries were “relatively minor.” We shouldn’t have to be grateful we were left alive. We shouldn’t be told we’re lucky because “at least it was over quickly.” Or any number of circumstances.
It’s important to mention that some survivors cope by thinking about how it could be worse, and that’s valid. But it’s up to survivors to drive their own narrative and not someone else forcing it on them. How a survivor chooses to talk about their experience is up to them entirely. It’s possible that it is genuinely helpful for them, but even if it isn’t, it’s still up to them to decide how they want to proceed.
Some survivors invalidate themselves in order to compartmentalize or to appease others. Some are minimizing their experience or even are showing some level of denial when they talk about being “lucky”. But if they aren’t saying something for the “right” reasons, it is still their experience and they get to decide how they want to talk about it, not someone else. It’s also not up to anyone else to decide what is “helpful” for someone.
With that said, there is no “lucky” for some of us. And pushing this on survivors, in some ways, invalidates us. The truth is, it should have never happened to you. To us. It was awful and we didn’t deserve it.
Whether you were raped, abused, or sexually assaulted in any way. Whatever the circumstances, you don’t have to listen when people tell you that you’re lucky. What they should be saying to you is “I’m so sorry you had to go through that. You didn’t deserve it. And you are valid.”
You don’t need to be thankful your trauma wasn’t worse. You don’t need to compare what you went through to someone else.
Was I lucky when I spent hours sobbing on my bathroom floor after he’d assaulted me? After all, he left very little bruising.
Nobody can compare emotional scars, and no one should. Because that’s where it hits most people the most. I believe him being more violent wouldn’t have changed how I felt emotionally. After all, the pain came from the violation. He’d taken my body and made it his.
Trust me when I tell you that the majority of us already beat ourselves up inside. Telling ourselves that it could have been worse. That we don’t have a right to feel the way we feel, because there are people surviving that had it so much worse than we did.
A lot of us already invalidate ourselves, and don’t need someone else minimizing what we went through. I understand that, for the most part, people say this to try and get us to look on the bright side. And I don’t believe that should be pushed on us. It should be up to us when and if we have to see a bright side.
When someone comes to you, please do us all a favour, and don’t tell them that they’re lucky it wasn’t worse.