Victim or Survivor?

_heart Nobody likes to be the victim. It’s a powerless role and people get rather upset when it is pointed out to them that they are in a ‘victim role’. In fact, being called a victim is often seen as an insult.

Being in the victim role is very much a child like state. Children are helpless and without power. If the adults around them don’t do the right thing, they have rarely any means to change their situation. They have to endure being treated badly, being victimized. They may complain, give up, or act out. Nothing will change their situation.

Once people have reached adulthood, maintaining a childlike victim role is maladaptive und counterproductive. I am sure everyone knows someone who is constantly complaining or criticizing others: for being late, for being uncaring, for not ringing back, for forgetting a birthday, for criticizing, for being unjust, for being disrespectful … and the list goes on and on.

Such persons, such victims, only notice how bad the situation is, how unfair they are treated, how unreasonable the demands on them are, how insensitive others act towards them. That’s how people get stuck in the victim role. They go around proclaiming that they should be treated better and that others should be more aware of the impact they have on the victims.  It’s tragic if that role becomes a ‘life position’ because anger, indignation, and vengeful feelings can easily lead to depression, anxiety, and psychosomatic problems.

How can you avoid getting stuck in the victim role? By making adaptive responses to your situation! Surely, things happen to adults that are outside of their influence, control, and/or understanding. The recent earthquake in Christchurch is a prime example. But you wouldn’t expect victims of the earthquake to sit around saying: “That is not fair, it should not have happened”. They move into action and start cleaning up the mess.

Victims never or hardly ever make substantial attempts to change their situation. Instead, they complain for ever about their circumstances. Complaining about a friend who never calls back is irrelevant and unproductive. Even though we can all agree that a good relationship has a balanced give and take, remaining a passive victim is not helping. A productive response would be to acknowledge how you feel about a situation rather than feeling victimized and judging your friend. The next step then is to decide on an action plan. Confront the person, remove yourself from an abusive environment, or assert your rights. Clean up the mess created by your personal ‘earthquake’. Constructive action is the antidote to victimhood.

6 thoughts on “Victim or Survivor?

  1. Uznco says:

    Its a real shame when you stand up and speak out against those who have victimised you and you are so careful not to bring in that drama triangle but to stand up and invite other witnesses to make those who acted inappropriately accountable for their actions isn’t it? Especially when they should know better. Some people try to keep you in a victim role and not able to speak out and when they do accuse you of being a victim. What a crock!!! Finding your voice is not always easy especially when others are not used to you speaking out against them. This happens believe it or not!!! its much better to try and invite people to the winners triangle where there can only be resolution and win/win situations.

  2. sophie says:

    maybe more appropriate would be painting the sky black and scribbling all over – f#### you world. THEN screaming out all the pain that seems frozen inside. feel sorry for yourself – you were badly hurt – but try not letting it take you too far down. i want to send you a bouquet of feelings of HOPE –

  3. Tats says:

    I think inside of all of us there is a victim it’s just whether it is in the drivers seat.
    To picture what my victim state sees it is a plane crash. She stands in the middle and there are fields and fields of debri for as far as the eye can see on all sides. Her past her present and her future. She kneels down and starts to put the pieces back together. Victims are not always inactive.
    To deny her reality will accomplish nothing and so I will acknowledge that this is her reality, there is only this and start to bring in some of the things that are not this, to move outside the repertoire of what is available.
    Therapist’s idea: to visit and paint the blue sky I see today and the clouds drifting by. The little flower popping beneath the wreckage. A smiling face of someone approaching her to help. These things aren’t there in her reality but I can bring them there. Imagining is as powerful in creating brain pathways as physically carrying out an act.
    I’m not sure that doing is always constructive unless that doing will bring growth to the part – multiple or not – that became stuck in that child state. It may mean another more adaptive part takes over but the state that is victim remains unchanged.

  4. Sophie says:

    I initially thought exactly like you did when i first read it. Oh how i could easily cope if it was as simple as an earthquake. Ok thats not quite right – when i was in an earthquake of a high magnitude all i wanted to do was leave that area – easy to do as i was travelling. But i suppose dealing with the aftermath of abuse – one cannot simply pack up, throw the backpack on and leave! Well not when denial, avoidance, dissociation… have been pointed out to one!!! If only it was that easy. The healing journey aint easy – oh how i wish it was – but we have to keep going – one step at a time if that what it takes. Comparing recovery to an earthquake – I’ve found the aftershocks do diminish with time. Occasionally there is another big one – just so i dont get complacent – but I’m learning how to cope – reaching out to others who too have had their own personal earth shattering experiences and can understand has helped a lot. we survived then and we can survive now. Hope where you are today – you are on terra firma.

  5. Mad says:

    Hi again, having re-read the article and what I wrote, I can see that it would be really great to be able to clean up my own earthquakes. I do think it’s harder when it’s an internal mess rather than something external like an actual earthquake but cleaning up would be really nice :-)Something to aim for!

  6. Mad says:

    Hi, I’m not sure if this was written by someone who understands how hard change is. It’s tiring always trying to come up with new ways of being, thinking and doing. Although I am not often in the “victim” role (a bit I guess), I would just like someone to explain to me sometime why so many other people seem to just let things pass right over them without being affected. Maybe being a victim is a bit like giving up on yourself but it’s hard to always be cleaning up your own earthquakes when they happen so often.

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