Sep 202015 3 Responses

Reject the Role of Victim

Oh, if only it were that easy. Imagine if we could just choose to never be victimized.

Some believe it is possible. They think if a person is smart enough, strong enough, and good enough, nothing bad will ever happen. So if something bad does happen, it must be a sign the person did something wrong. (See: What a Drunk Girl Deserves)

It creates a double victimization. A person is victimized by a perpetrator and then victimized again by the very people who should be giving them support.

“What was she doing out that late,” blames a rape victim for her rape.

“They should just work harder,” blames those who are born into poverty for not becoming rich.

“He brought it on himself,” blames the one being bullied for the actions of another.

Humanity has the long history of blaming the victim. We do so, in part, to pretend as though the world is a safe and predictable place. We want to think, if we do the right things nothing bad will ever happen. Of course that is not the world in which we live. Blaming the victim doesn’t make us safer; it simply injures those who are already injured.

There is another tendency we have regarding the role of the victim–we love to play the role.

I see it in my children. “Dad, Ella hit me,” Silas will say. What he doesn’t say is that he hit her first. He wants to be the victim.

I see it in others. “You offended me,” some will say. Instead of engaging in the debate of an idea, they will immediately take the conversation to their feelings. (See: If This Offends You, I’m Not Sorry)

I see it in myself. “That’s not fair,” I will think. Rather than looking at my own actions, I will feel another has treated me unfairly.

While we should never blame the victim, we should reject the role of victim whenever possible.

Sometimes it is not an option. At times we are the victim and there is no need to live in denial of what has happened. We will be treated unfairly. Others will act inappropriately. We will suffer in undeserved ways.

But far more often we seek victim-hood even when it isn’t there. (See: You Hurt My Feelings)

We don’t like the outcome of a vote so we assume the other side lied or cheated.

We don’t get the promotion we thought we deserved so we think our co-worker sabotaged us.

We don’t get the playing time we think should be ours so we believe the coach has it out for us.

We love the role of victim. If we feel victimized, we believe everything else should stop and everyone should focus on making things right toward us. While that might be true if we are the actual victim of a crime, it is not true just because we didn’t get our way or someone has a different opinion.

Maybe our boss could’ve been more sensitive in how he delivered his critique, but focus on the idea and not the delivery.

Maybe our spouse should have been more thoughtful about the situation, but don’t use one situation to manipulate the whole relationship.

Maybe the system should be better, but don’t use a broken system as an excuse.

Whenever possible, refuse the role of victim. Don’t deny what was wrong, but empower yourself to control what you control. The problem with being a victim (when we don’t have to be one) is we allow other people to define who we are, how we feel, and what we will do. Unnecessary victim-hood paralyzes us. Yet when we reject the role, we can experience a great deal of control over our lives. (See: You Control What Matters Most)

We choose the role of victim for three reasons:

Power. Being the victim in a close friendship or relationship brings power. They were wrong; I was right; they now owe me.

Excuse. Being the victim is a great excuse for inaction. If I’m the victim, I don’t have to take any action. The other person should be responsible so I can do nothing and feel okay about it.

Distraction. Being the victim is a good distraction from what I have done. By placing all the focus on how I was victimized, I will not be held responsible for my poor decisions or actions.

While victim-hood feels good in the moment, it is destructive in the long run.

It amazes me how often I find myself seeking the role of victim. Without conscious thought I will accept the role of victim even when there is no logical reason to feel victimized. I will seek it out: finding other people offensive even when they didn’t offend; feeling others are attacking me even when they aren’t even thinking about me; believing the world is out to get me even when it is treating me as everyone else is treated.

We will be victimized in this world. It’s unavoidable. No matter our strength, choices, and faith, bad things will happen. However, not every time that we feel like a victim are we actually a victim. We are prone to seeking the role more than we actually experience its effects.

Recognize your desire to be the victim and reject it when possible.

 

3 Responses to Reject the Role of Victim
  1. Alexis Reply

    This article has a great message, but I wonder what you might have written if you had included PTSD sufferers. I know that PTSD is not a topic you focus on. However, the idea that you can choose not to have a victim mentality is problematic for us with post traumatic stress. I love everything you’ve written so far. Thank you for your efforts.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thank you Alexis. You are right, PTSD would change things and is not a topic I’m knowledgable enough to talk about.

  2. […] Many times we have a right to be offended, but it is our choice nonetheless. And we make that choic... kevinathompson.com/a-comprehensive-guide-to-dealing-with-offensive-people

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