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#456651 - 12/12/13 12:03 AM Victimhood?
Jude Offline


Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1483
Loc: New England
This post contains no triggers, but it may be considered controversial by some. It is not directed at any particular person, but I believe is worth consideration by all of us.

Dictionary.com provides the following definition:
vic·tim noun
1. a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency: a victim of an automobile accident.
2. a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency: a victim of misplaced confidence; the victim of a swindler; a victim of an optical illusion.

Most of us rightly see ourselves as having been victims as children, having "suffered from a destructive or injurious action". But how does that affect us where we are today? Have we moved beyond the "victim role", or are we still living that out as men? And is there anything wrong with that anyway?

Psychologist Lynne Namka, Ed. D. writes in her article: The Drama Triangle: The Three Roles of Victimhood (angriesout.com) that "the victim copes with his situation by saying to himself, 'I get to feel safe by being submissive'." And as powerless children, that was true. Thats what kept us from telling, resisting, or running. Those things were all too risky for us. We believed that we had to submit to survive. But I am suggesting here that victimhood is a means of coping that no longer works for us as adults.

Ms. Namka goes on to describe the charachteristics of the adult victim:
  • He is stuck in a false sense of being unworthy with defenses of feeling sorry for self and passive aggressive behavior".
  • Deals with threats by giving in, in order to feel safe and is submissive when others act inappropriately.
  • Unable to stand up for self and avoids confrontation.
  • Believes his/her needs do not count.
  • Can be overly sensitive, wish-washy and unable to make and stick to decisions.
  • Doesn't take responsibility for own feelings.
  • Feeds off of the beliefs of Perpetrator and rescuer that he/she cannot take care of self.
  • Has shame base for being irresponsible and inept.
  • Is anxiety driven and makes excuses for staying stuck in Victim-hood.
  • Blames Perpetrator for problems.
  • Anger, resentment and retaliation through manipulation and refusal to act as a responsible adult.
  • Moves between "Poor me" and anger with blaming others "He/she is bad."
  • Feels stuck and unfulfilled in life but does not risk moving forward.
I can identify with most of those traits in myself, and I am coming to realize that as a man, they keep me powerless. They are the means by with my abuser still can reach through time and space and control me all these years later. Continuing to play the role of the victim alienates me from others, isolates me, makes me bitter, angry, and unforgiving. It keeps me from getting what I want out of life. Its not working for me.

Ms Namka then describes some steps can be taken by the adult victim to begin to change their lives:
  • Stop expecting someone else to rescue you. Think and problem solve for yourself. Act boldly.
  • Take responsibility for your feelings, thoughts and actions that contribute to your Victim role.
  • Be authentic with others and learn to state your feelings and your needs firmly.
  • Learn the body sensations and reactions that signal you are about to collapse into helplessness.
  • Listen to your constant Victim statements and break into them.
  • Address the terror and release traumatic memories of being abused by Perpetrator.
  • Learn to handle confrontation and deal with other people's anger.
  • Challenge any belief or thoughts that say you are unworthy and can't take care of yourself.
  • Decide what you expect and state your minimum standard of behavior that you consider to be decent treatment from others.
  • Set limits with Perpetrators and rescuers and walk away if they don't respect your boundaries.
  • Stop blaming the Perpetrator and rescuer and focus on getting out from under their influence.
  • Deal with your anger at being scapegoated and punished by others and your taking on the victim role.
  • Start a self nurturing, self care program to bolster your ability to take care of your own needs.
  • Take an assertiveness training course. Read five books on assertiveness. Take the course again.
  • Surround yourself with new, positive friends and define yourself as an independent person who can handle life's problems.
  • Get a life where you are responsible for yourself!
Some may bristle at hearing the message "stop playing the victim". It sounds alot like "just get over it". But if you see yourself at all in the above description, ask your self "how's this working for me?" If its making you happy, joyous, and free then I salute you. But if you are stuck in fear, anger, self-hatred, loneliness, and shame (like me) give it some thought. Maybe its time to make some changes.

Some other worthwhile reading on the subject:
Psychology Today: How To Stop Playing the Victim Game
Psychology Today: Don't Play the Victim Game
_________________________
"But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day
....it's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all. "
Joni Mitchell

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#456654 - 12/12/13 02:25 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
concerned_husky Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/29/12
Posts: 585
Jude,

Thanks for posting this. Really interesting yet possibly controversial, as you noted.

I admit I agree with all of the points - I can certainly see many of them apply to my life currently. So often I read these kind of articles, and I think to myself, "Right, I've got this now. I can take power back in my life." And then nothing happens. I guess for me, what's missing is not really the knowledge of what must be done, but applying that knowledge to daily actions/behavior. In other words, there must be some kind of measurable, recordable, tangible goals/tasks that must be set everyday, through which all of the points mentioned in the article can be put into action.

Thanks again.
_________________________
Husky

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#456685 - 12/12/13 11:42 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
Magellan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 12/31/10
Posts: 1390
Loc: California
Thank you for posting this. I just wrote another post "what is love?" out of desperation.

I am also a victim. I've been trying to climb out of being a victim for decades. I'm still stuck here. After 20 years of therapy and medication and meditation and blah blah blah blah.

My question is HOW? I've been DOING all the things that people have told me to do to RECOVER and *now* I find myself asking "What the hell is love!?" Really! After 30 years of effort, my recovery efforts have come down to this. Do I even know what love is? The closest thing that I would call love is as my grandmother used to say: "Love is a verb. It is something you do, not something you feel."

This makes sense to me. Love that stands on principal no matter how one feels - that's love. Because its unconditional. The romantic and warm fuzzies that people give each other can be blown away by slight breezes. But a determined stand on principal of kindness and compassion. That's love.

I wasn't expecting to type that. Anyways - I have been doing my best to practice THAT kind of love - unconditional and compassionate. And I admit I come FAR short of my own ideals. But I'm trying.

My point is this - that is the only form of love that I can believe in. Simply because I don't think I ever really experienced feeling truly connected to another human being. I've come close a few times in my childhood, but they were fleeting and gone in a flash. I've never experienced romance. For a long time I lamented why not. Well, I know why not, now. I don't understand it.

I turn 42 tomorrow. I'll be completely alone. I have no friends or family who wish to celebrate with me. (Yeah, all part of the victim story).

But dammit. I've tried for decades and I don't have anything to show for it. So I find myself agreeing with everything you posted - I'm the poster child for victim. And after all these years of effort, I'm exasperated to find myself asking "HOW?"

All of the above may sound like the rantings of a victim. I'll admit that. But damnit. I'm doing the best that I can. And I still identify as a victim.


Edited by Magellan (12/12/13 11:57 AM)
_________________________
It's a heroes journey, and you are the hero.

Loving Kindness Meditation will dramatically improve your spirits; give it a try for just 3 days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM

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#456764 - 12/13/13 11:01 PM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Magellan]
Jude Offline


Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1483
Loc: New England
Originally Posted By: concerned husky
So often I read these kind of articles, and I think to myself, "Right, I've got this now. I can take power back in my life." And then nothing happens.
Hey Husky,

I've been there as well. Thought I'd finally found the key...the golden ticket to recovery, only to have it fall far short of my expectations. Becoming aware of my tendancy toward seeing the world through the eyes of a victim, is just one step among many taken, and many still to come. But I thought it was worth sharing with others here.

Originally Posted By: Magellan
I am also a victim. I've been trying to climb out of being a victim for decades. I'm still stuck here......My question is HOW?
Hey Magellan,

I can't tell you how to do this, I can only tell you how I am doing this. Being a recovering alcoholic in AA, I have learned to constantly be vigilant about my thoughts, feelings, and behavior. By monitoring myself for "victim" thoughts, feelings, and behavior, I can recognize them, and reject them before I get too far down that road. Of course I don't do this perfectly, but I hope to get better through practice.

One of the principles learned in any 12 step program is that you can accomplish alot by gaining the "gift of desperation". In other words, I am so NOT HAPPY where I am that I'm willing to try, with commitment, anything that might change my life for the better. It sometimes has required me to put aside long held held beliefs and values in order to move forward. Desperation causes me to question all my reasons and excuses for staying where I am. Thats what works for me.

Jude
_________________________
"But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day
....it's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all. "
Joni Mitchell

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#456784 - 12/14/13 04:07 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
victor-victim Offline


Registered: 09/27/03
Posts: 3085
Loc: O Kanada
great post.
this is all territory we are familiar with as we have struggled with these questions internally.
i know i certainly have.

it is just good to see it all laid out like that.

makes it easier to work through.

i agree, it was a very sensitive touchy part of my recovery.

i had to claim the title of victim at one point,
in order to acknowledge the wrong committed against me,
even though i was reluctant to do so.
it meant admitting i was not in control.
it was easier for me to think i made it, or let it, happen.
i disagreed with anyone who tried to suggest that i had been a victim.
i hated that word. that label.
it meant loser. weak.
i was quick to lash out.

once i had finally identified with that vulnerability,
i owned it, but i could not stay there.
it did sometimes decay into depression,
wallowing in self pity and loathing.
justifying and excusing my bad behaviour.
i needed to eventually evolve into victor survivor on my own terms at my own speed.
if anyone else tried to deprive me of my hard-earned victim status,
suggesting that i should toughen up or move on.
i was quick to lash out.


_________________________
Victor|Victim

War
Love
Poetry

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#456786 - 12/14/13 06:58 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
OCN Offline


Registered: 02/05/13
Posts: 217
Loc: Western Europe
Thanks for sharing Jude.. yesterday i had an interesting night and i guss i found some new hidden victimized parts of me.. obscured by addictions, but now i can see that first there's the victim, later comes the addiction. And i tried to solve my victimhood by believing my addiction was actually beneficial in the long term. But in reality it might have helped a few times, the rest of the times it just distracted me.

I realize that my main problem is getting to actually feel my thoughts, emotions and feelings. I've locked it out somehow..
_________________________
Trust me, you are worth it to love yourself!

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#456815 - 12/14/13 06:21 PM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
ThisMan Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/22/13
Posts: 767
Loc: upper south
Hey, Jude. This is a great post and as 2013 draws to a close it is definitely worthy of reassessing the things that may keep us in the "victimhood". I have made such tremendous advances forward during the past year. When I reflect back, I can't believe where I was, the things I did, the things I permitted into my life, and who I spent my time with.

For 2014, I plan on actually writing down the main components of what I feel still hold me back. An aspect I've never considered is the "rescuer" who places unspoken burdens on us as well. Its an interesting concept and again, o ne worthy of exploring. I feel I have come far enough now that I not only don't NEED a rescuer, I don't want one (and I am not talking about a worthy therapist-) I think perhaps I am speaking of the "instant best friend" or something alone those lines. I am ready to continue forth alone. I like that as the many components of the "victim" fall away, the real "b" is emerging. Thanks, again for the chance to think concretely about this.
_________________________
For now we see through a glass, darkly.



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#456843 - 12/15/13 05:00 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
Jude Offline


Registered: 08/09/12
Posts: 1483
Loc: New England
Originally Posted By: VictorVictim
i had to claim the title of victim at one point,in order to acknowledge the wrong committed against me,
even though i was reluctant to do so. it meant admitting i was not in control.
Hey VV,

You are quite right. That was a big first step for me too, reclaiming the I had been a victim.. The challenge is not staying there.

Originally Posted By: OCN
i guss i found some new hidden victimized parts of me.....I realize that my main problem is getting to actually feel my thoughts, emotions and feelings. I've locked it out somehow..
Hey OCN,

Yes, I agree this recovery process means continually uncovering more stuff that I had buried. I've been down the road of using drugs, alcohol, and sex to "lock it out" as you put it. It worked...until it didn't. Left alot of destruction in my wake in the process.


Originally Posted By: ThisMan
I have made such tremendous advances forward during the past year. When I reflect back, I can't believe where I was, the things I did, the things I permitted into my life, and who I spent my time with.
Hey TM,

Great to hear from a guy who can has done the work, felt the pain, and can see some progress. I wish you had never had anything to recover FROM, but because you do, your success will inspire others who may feel like giving up.
_________________________
"But now old friends are acting strange,
they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day
....it's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all. "
Joni Mitchell

Top
#456854 - 12/15/13 11:45 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
Bluedogone Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 07/03/13
Posts: 171
Loc: Southeast US
Thanks Jude, for this posting. VERY enlightening.

At first glance I thought, well this doesn't apply to me. Parenthood, adulthood, brotherhood maybe, but not victimhood. But as I read the identifying characteristics I had to rethink just how far I've come from where I've been.

The great thing about lists of this type is you can check off all you've accomplished (with an accompanying pat on the back), but then it's pretty clear what needs some work.

Now, when someone says, "Just get over it" it doesn't bother me. I just realize the heartless, thoughtless bastard that said that just doesn't understand. I am getting over it, just on my terms, not on someone else's timetable.
_________________________
Never, never, never, never give up....Winston Churchill

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#457123 - 12/20/13 10:40 AM Re: Victimhood? [Re: Jude]
SayItRight Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 10/06/13
Posts: 63
.


Edited by SayItRight (12/22/13 08:32 PM)
Edit Reason: delete

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