Existing in Survival Mode Can Be Okay

January 6, 2022 Cheryl Wozny

Individuals who have faced abuse can tell you all about survival mode. For myself, there were years where I existed strictly to survive. I was not moving away from the abuse or making any intentions of changing my circumstances. Unfortunately, for many victims, this is a realistic and frightening scenario. 

My Survival Mode

The years I spent in survival mode were exhausting. Each day, my whole body was on high alert to face my abuser. I would try to make deliberate choices not to provoke him and initiate a threatening situation. From talking to him less to trying to do tasks he would want me to do before he realized it, I spent my days looking for ways to minimize the potential for abuse. 

I was not seeking outside help at that time. I did not have the energy or motivation to ask for help or the resources to leave the relationship. Although being in survival mode was bleak and terrifying, it was a crucial step for me to prepare for my departure. 

Why Didn't I Leave Before Survival Mode Kicked In? 

So many individuals I have spoken to have asked why I didn't leave sooner or why I didn't reach out when the abuse started. I cannot speak for all the victims out there today, but for myself, the answer was always that I felt trapped

I didn't believe I could get the support or help I needed. I did not think it was severe enough for someone to help me change my situation. I did not have the money or resources to physically leave on my own either, essentially making me a prisoner in my own home. I didn't think there was hope for me outside of what I was dealing with. 

Living in Survival Mode Exhausts You, But You Can Seek Change

Although existing in survival mode is exhausting, I believe it was necessary to focus on just getting through each day. Of course, no one should have to remain in this place for an extended period, but it helped me gather my thoughts and make a plan so when I was ready to make a move, I could focus better. 

If you are in a similar position where you are just surviving and getting through each day, one at a time, that is okay. But, unfortunately, sometimes it takes a while before you find the motivation or seek out the resources necessary to change your circumstances. 

It is important to remember that you do not have to stay in this situation. Whether it is calling a local hotline or talking to a friend, there are tools and resources out there so you can break free from abuse and move towards a healthier life. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2022, January 6). Existing in Survival Mode Can Be Okay, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

Anna rogers
February, 11 2022 at 10:53 am

I was alway told why can’t. You be pretty like her why can’t you be smart like her these voices are loud sometimes and sometimes silence but always there. Did not want to live . I have friends who understand and encourage me.

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