When you meet or read about other survivors whose assault seems much worse than yours, you might decide that you should forget about recovery and count your blessings instead. According to Johnathan Shay “Placing one’s self in a ‘hierarchy of suffering’ to one’s disadvantage is widespread among trauma survivors” (2002, 79). Even if another person suffered more injuries than you did, you are entitled to grieve for your own pain, every bit of it. You are important, too, and you owe it to yourself to recover as much as possible.
Jealousy is another feeling you may encounter. “Why are they recovering so much faster than I am?” or “How did they recover without any help but I need as much help as I can get?”
Stop! Comparing yourself unfavorably to others is a form of self-violence. Some people have a more emotionally or physically reactive central nervous system than do others. Therefore, they respond more intensely to emotional and physical pain, which can prolong their recovery. Such emotional reactivity may be the combined result of genetic inheritance, upbringing, background, or prior life experiences. Yet in our society, where myths like “nobody can hurt you unless you let them,” are widespread, emotional sensitivity is often viewed as a personal failing. Myths and stereotypes about “strong women of color” can serve to make it physically and emotionally difficult to connect with pain from these experiences. Emotionally sensitive and emotionally expressive people are often devalued. Assure yourself that you are worthy of healing, that your emotions matter and are not a burden, and that it is ok and often necessary to put yourself first and make yourself your number one priority.
Its also important to remember that a survivor with progress in one area may have problems in another. The one who seems “normal” may be hurting in ways you cannot see, may be in denial about some issues, or may not want to expose her issues for fear for burdening others. Futhermore, the degree of a woman’s recovery is highly dependent on factors outside of herself that are part of her recovery environment: her financial status, her access to good medical and physiological care, the amount of emotional support in their life, and the severity of current stress in their life.