Every Survivor has the right to become a Thriver


This statement sums up HAVOCA’s core beliefs, it typifies the underlying psyche of what it means to heal.  It doesnt mean being a victim is wrong, it doesn’t suggest you need to be labelled into a category and never ‘float’ between feelings or emotions.  The HAVOCA ethos just provides a stable platform to build from, an aspiration, a hope or just a clear objective.

Every Survivor has the right to become a Thriver

Victim to Survivor to Thriver

There are many academic approaches to the recovery of child abuse. One approach that sits nicely with HAVOCA ethos is the ‘The Three Stages: Victim – Survivor – Thriver (Living Life to the Full, or as Full as Possible)’. Other approaches are covered on this website but it is up to the individual to see which model best fits their own profile. I personally use a mixture of many approaches; as I find labels and academic profiles too restrictive when trying to come to terms with my past.


• First stage of healing. It is important for you to face the reality of what happened.

• You can then acknowledge the negative feelings and emotions that might be around (grief, anger, sadness, disappointment, frustration, despair, hopelessness, helplessness, etc.)

• Allow yourself to experience these feelings and emotions: and to express them.

• This is a vital part of healing and a valuable part of this stage.

• It is also important to recognise that what happened was not your fault , so you can let go of self-blame, shame and guilt.

• Find the courage to tell someone else what happened to you; this breaks down the isolation and gives you a small part of the control back.

• As soon as the victim stage has been acknowledged and understood, you will find yourself drifting into the survivor stage.


• This begins when you understand you have lived beyond the traumatic or highly stressful experience of the abuse.

• This stage reinforces the fact that it happened in the past.

Acknowledgment of survivor – hood involves:

° developing an inventory of positive personality characteristics

° identifying and appreciating the internal strengths (knowledge, courage, spirituality and other positive aspects of self), which have got you this far.

° identifying external resources: friends, supportive family members, welfare organisations, charities and community support,

• At this stage you will recognise how to function in everyday life: work, family time, household chores, time with friends, hobbies, community activities, etc.

• You may be able to contemplate forgiveness and what that entails for you. On the other hand, you may find healthy ways to apportion the blame without feeling bogged down by the painful memories.

• Once you have acknowledged you’ve survived, and the skills, strengths, qualities and resources that have got you to survival and eventual wellbeing, you will find yourself drifting into thriving; moving on – to live life to the full and to live as purposeful and meaningful a life as possible .

Thriver – Living Life to the Full

• This allows you more freedom than the earlier stages.

• You can forgive yourself for any unhealthy coping mechanisms you used to survive.

• It allows you to experience a more compelling present and to contemplate a future that is more vivid and fulfilling than your past.

• It is now possible to enjoy life to the fullest, within any physical limitations you may have.

• It is worthwhile to explore possibilities and dreams for the future that you may be having right now.

• It is now possible for you to express yourself in the most personally rewarding and creative ways available to you.

Moving on doesn’t mean you have forgotten the past but it does mean it doesn’t drag you backwards anymore. You aren’t constantly reminded of the pain.

So where am I?

Use the following table to reflect on aspects of your recovery and see where you have been, where you are going and what you want to strive for.




Doesn’t deserve nice things or trying for the “good life.” Struggling for reasons & chance to heal Gratitude for everything in life.
Low self esteem/shame/unworthy Sees self as wounded & healing Sees self as an overflowing miracle
Hyper vigilant Using tools to learn to relax Gratitude for new life
Alone Seeking help Oneness
Feels Selfish Deserves to seek help Proud of Healthy Self caring
Damaged Naming what happened Was wounded & now healing
Confusion & numbness Learning to grieve, grieving past aggrieved trauma Grieving at current losses
Overwhelmed by past Naming & grieving what happened Living in the present
Hopeless Hopeful Faith in self & life
Uses outer world to hide from self Stays with emotional pain Understands that emotional pain will pass & brings new insights
Hides their story Not afraid to tell their story to safe people. Beyond telling their story, but always aware they have created their own healing with HP
Believes everyone else is better, stronger, less damaged Comes out of hiding to hear others & have compassion for them & eventually self Lives with an open heart for self & others
Often wounded by unsafe others Learning how to protect self by share, check, share Protects self from unsafe others
Places own needs last Learning healthy needs (See Healing the Child Within & Gift to Myself) Places self first realizing that is the only way to function & eventually help others
Creates one drama after another See patterns Creates peace
Believes suffering is the human condition Feeling some relief, knows they need to continue in recovery Finds joy in peace
Serious all the time Beginning to laugh Seeing the humour in life
Uses inappropriate humour, including teasing Feels associated painful feelings instead Uses healthy humour
Uncomfortable, numb or angry around toxic people Increasing awareness of pain & dynamics Healthy boundaries around toxic people, incl. relatives
Lives in the past Aware of patterns Lives in the Now
Angry at religion Understanding the difference between religion & personal spirituality Enjoys personal relationship with the God of their understanding
Suspicious of therapists– projects Sees therapist as guide during projections Sees reality as their projection & owns it.
Needs people & chemicals to believe they are all right Glimpses of self-acceptance & fun without others Feels authentic & connected, Whole
“Depression” Movement of feelings Aliveness

The HAVOCA ethos just provides a stable platform to build from, an aspiration, a hope or just a clear objective.

You don’t have to fall into one neat category!  Your recovery is personal to you.  Its perfectly normal and acceptable to move between these three stages; forwards and backwards.

5 Responses to HAVOCA Ethos

  1. Jim says:

    When I read the description under the word victim, I found the description of myself. I am 59 years of age, and have been feeling pointless and worthless since I was first robbed of my innocence at the age of 7 years old.
    I am beginning psychiatric councilling, but I think I need to reach out to others. I friend of mine told me something very important recently, he said, “sharing is caring”.
    I think I’m finally ready to share my own past, so that I can finally shed the grief that has accompanied me throughout my entire life.

  2. HAVOCA says:

    Yes, trust is a difficult emotion to control, especially when we hail from an abusive past. HAVOCA’s ethos forms the back bone of the principle that we can learn to trust again, in the same way we can learn to earn the trust of others. Our trust section may be useful for you.

  3. Holly Ashley says:

    I was abused at 10 yo I’m now 40 I never spoke about it but now I think I’m.turning imti a abuser

  4. Michael A Christensen says:

    How can I ever recover when I am still being abused, and everyone gets away with it, and no one is willing to protect me, but everyone blames me for being an addict. The first time I stood up for myself for sexual abuse was to my Jr High counselor Jerry Cox the second time he did it, and both the principal, and him tried to coerce me to stay silent, and when that didn’t work threatened me. I said I wouldn’t say anything, but immediately after they let me go I told other students, who were then convicted that I was lying. I had to spend the last 2 weeks of 8th grade sitting in the hall, on display to everyone at school, and no one has ever listened to me, or believed me. I don’t have the ability to protect myself because of that. I can’t even file charges against them, because of a statute of limitations. I will never be able to have what I lost, and no one cares. I should just get over it, and not live in the past, even though I have no present, or future.

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