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  • Writer's pictureErika Sardinha

How Calling Myself a Survivor Helped Me Heal And Grow

If you've been reading me for a while, you know I'm a supporter of trauma and abuse survivors, and I consider myself a survivor as well. 

But I understand how some people may dislike and have difficulties embracing the word survivor; I get them. 

I can see how it may sound weird or even scary. And you know what? That's okay.

Nevertheless, I won't stop considering myself a survivor. Of course, being a survivor is not my whole identity, but it's part of the reason why I embrace my identity at all. 

Here's the thing: I was a victim of complex childhood trauma that included everything from physical, psychological, and sexual abuse and neglect, but as I grew into adulthood, I kept going like nothing happened, and that created a state of seemingly perpetual dissociation in me. 

So much so that I have whole chunks of my life that I don't remember at all; I went to college for years and barely recall my colleagues, teachers or any of the interactions we had. Isn't it scary? I know, but I made peace with it now. There is no time machine, right?

I was in my late twenties when I started asking myself why I was the way I was: why was I feeling so numb and depressed most of the time; why was I people-pleasing and felt this tremendous pressure to overachieve and prove to everyone I was perfect? Why did I still sleep with a light on? Was that normal? 

The truth is, it wasn't. But for a person who survived what I survived it was quite common. This lightbulb moment occurred once I realized that I was the way I was, felt the way I felt, and acted the way I acted because I was a survivor. 

Some may think: "I didn't have it as bad as her, so this isn't for me." I see you, and I believe you know at your heart that maybe it is. 'Big T' trauma or 'small t' trauma, they all leave a scar. The truth is, whatever that was, you survived it. And that's what makes a survivor.

Once I realized I was a survivor, a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It was not my fault, and I was not 'broken.' Someone tried to break me. And guess what? It didn't work because I'm still standing, and from this position, I knew I could start working on my healing and growth. 

Here's what happens when you own your story and your survivor status:

1. You take your power back.

No more letting other people write your story! When you own your story, you reclaim your right to write the rest of it. You take your power back. Now, you can act from a place of knowledge. We all know knowledge is power. 

2. You give yourself what you actually need 

We all have unique needs, and being a survivor comes with a different set specifc to each individual. When you accept that, you can provide your beautiful self with exactly what you need. 

3. You accept yourself fully.

This one, for me, is the most essential piece. No matter what you've been through, what some people made you believe, you are worthy and enough just the way you are. When you see yourself as a survivor, you accept another part of yourself. And that is beautiful.

I hope this inspires you to own your story and who you are despite it. You are not in this alone on this one. 

Lots of love, 



Just a couple of things before you go:

If you want to be a part of a community of badass thriving survivors, join my private Facebook community here.  

Also, did you know I created a 10' guided tapping meditation for true relaxation and joy? From the feedback that I've been getting, it's highly effective. Want to give it a try? Access it here:  


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