Victim or Survivor?

My friend and colleague Ilene Corina is the director of PULSE of NY (Persons United Limiting Substandards and Errors) and issues a newsletter each month. I’ve asked her permission to share the following from her most current edition.

You’ll see it’s another way of explaining blamers and fixers. Well put, and very clear:

I hear the term “victim” often enough and it is a word that makes me just cringe. When I hear that term I picture the victim lying bleeding in the street or behind a concrete wall enslaved in a medieval prison innocent of their convicted crime. I don’t think of myself as a victim of medical error, but my son surely is, since he is dead and can no longer help others learn from the mistakes made by the system that has failed so many of us.

I am a survivor. Survivors get up in the morning and work, play and attend to their business. Many survivors find ways to help others who feel victim to the experience that has pulled them down. Whether it is a disease, natural disaster or a crime, the survivor picks himself up, brush himself off and says “what can I do to make this world a better place” sometimes just one person at a time. A survivor still cries, because that is nature’s way of cleansing and relieving the tension. A survivor still gets angry, because that is the way to learn when things aren’t going right. A survivor still gets tired, because the body needs time to rest but gets going each time to start again.

Victims often get stuck. They can lose direction and the anger stays with them. They may sleep more or use their anger to try to improve the world. Often, it is the survivor who hears the victim and focuses the victim’s needs in a positive and constructive way to help improve the world.

Whether a victim or a survivor, you are important and by sharing, you will relieve yourself of a burden that does not have to rest on your shoulders alone.

Thanks Ilene. Good food for thought. I appreciate you, my friend — the consummate survivor.

(see Ilene’s blog at:

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Trisha Torrey
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