Music therapy, a real treatment that any kind of person can find to be helpful (https://www.musictherapy.org/about/musictherapy/), can help the survivor on many levels. Lyrics can put feelings that are difficult to communicate into words. When anxiety traps a former victim, a strong beat can motivate him/her to get moving, whether that means dancing, running, or just walking to the mailbox. Someone accustomed to feeling invisible, guilty, ugly, and unloved can hear a sassy track and feel strong and confident. Even listening to sad songs can help. On those really tough days, when those who are still actively surviving experience another round of abuse, or those who are have survived child abuse find themselves feeling damaged and hopeless, hearing someone else belting out their misery can at least make a person feel a little less alone.
So, I present some tunes that have helped me through tough times, and that have motivated me to achieve some great times. The titles are linked for your YouTube viewing convenience. Strength, power, and love to you, my fellow survivors.
This song is technically about JAY-Z cheating on Queen B, and B getting (understandably) PISSED, but it works for the survivor is ready to release her/himself from the abuser. This song got me through the year when I “divorced” my mom. I felt a lot of pain; I kept wondering what I had done so wrong, what was so wrong with me that my own mother didn’t love me. Then, I’d listen to this song and feel a surge of self-confidence. It’s filled with righteous anger, which sometimes the survivor needs. In fact, to move on with one’s life, the survivor must feel and process her/his anger; if it stays bottled up, the survivor cannot grow emotionally and move forward.
The survivor does not need to feel sorry. Middle fingers in the air.
You may be rolling your eyes right now. If Disney and Demi Lovato aren’t your thing, that’s 100% understandable. Skip to #3. However, many may find this song to be far more meaningful than simply Elsa’s anthem about her weird mutant snow powers. Take a critical look at the lyrics (yes, yes, they’re Disney, but put a Dandelion Soapbox lens on):
Don’t let them in,
don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel,
don’t let them know
Well now they know
Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care
what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on.
The cold never bothered me anyway
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me,
I used to be a little girl who had to be perfect all the time, both for fear of getting hell rained down on me, and also because I felt responsible, somehow, for my mother’s reputation. I was terrified of CPS taking my sibling and I away, but also of other’s judgement of her (and, I supposed, of me; see self doubt referenced above). Finally, in my early twenties, after a lifetime of abuse, I realized I could walk away from her without threat to my safety and wellbeing. I had a job–a way to feed and clothe myself–and was taller and stronger than her. What is more, I stopped caring about what others thought of her, or me. I discovered this song when I was drafting my “divorce” letter to my parents; I used to scream along to it in the car, drawing strength from Demi’s Disneylicious voice. I recommend it to anyone.
The video for this song is awesome, as is the music itself. The survivor carries a lot of fears and anxiety. We were made to believe from our earliest years that we were worth nothing–or worse, that we were so essentially, purely horrible that we deserved abuse. The survivor grows up second-guessing oneself, believe she/he is ugly, stupid, annoying, etc. etc. This song helps me to remember that I am not my mother’s sins. I am powerful and full of potential. I can love myself and accomplish my dreams. Remember, survivors; the very word “survivor” indicates that you are stronger than for what you give yourself credit. We survived terrible nightmares brought to life. We can do anything.
Another totally awesome video. As someone who loves the outdoors and adrenaline sports–skiing especially, but also mountain biking and rock climbing–I empathize with the skydiver completely. But I also love Emeli Sandé’s words and amazing voice. This is another affirmative song. Most survivors feel like they don’t belong, at least sometimes. We’ve had so much to hide, so much taken from us that others instead take for granted. There is so much more work we have to do to get by on a day by day basis. But Emeli reminds me that the work I’ve put it in first to survive, then thrive, is totally valuable.
No video for this one, just the track. It’s from a folksy band I heard on NPR one day, and I must say the whole album is pretty good. This particular song is yet another affirmation. The survivor deserves as many affirmations as possible from her/himself, because our parents gave us so little. When we listen to music that is encouraging, it is an act of self-love. This song, however, is much more peaceful than the preceding 2 tracks I’ve listed. It is calming, a good choice to listen to after meditating or while engaging in self care.
I love getting music recommendations, especially when it is music that helps with channel emotion, gets me motivated, or is just beautiful. Feel free to email at firstname.lastname@example.org with some music recommendations for survivors, and I will be absolutely thrilled to post.