PV Mirror, Jan 15-21, issue # 118, pg 17

Are you a victim?

The word victim indicates that something was done to you, implying that you did not have a choice and it was therefore, forced upon you and you did not have the power to stop or prevent it. There are victims of tragedies, natural disasters, war, genocide, car accidents, bullying, rape, and physical/emotional/verbal/sexual abuse.

Unfortunately, so many people have been victims of one kind or another at some point in their lives and depending on what happened, the severity and the frequency, depends on the degree of damage; physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Unfortunately, the damaging effects are evident into adulthood in every aspect of life. For example, intimate and family relationships may suffer, friendships may be superficial or inconsistent, work opportunities may be sabotaged, and finances may be unstable because you don’t believe you deserve to succeed.

The short-term and long-term effects can vary. A person, who was in a car accident after spinning out on the ice, may be afraid to drive on snow and ice for the next few winters. A person who was raped may be afraid to leave their house alone. A sexually abused person may be unable to fully enjoy sex even with their trusted partner. A verbally and emotionally abused person may have such low self-esteem because they internalized and believed what was being said was true.

Note: I will focus the rest of the article on being perpetrated against, abused, and dominated. I am not in any way discounting the devastating effects of other types of tragedies, nor the subsequent post-traumatic stress disorder which often results.

Reclaim you power

As long as you are the victim, the perpetrator has the power.You must become empowered. Decide not to give your power away anymore. Determine what is in your control. I guarantee that you have a lot more choices than you think. What needs to change? What and who do you need to let go of? If you are still being victimized, are you in danger, do you need to leave the relationship or will setting some boundaries be sufficient?

If the victimization occurred in the past, then it is very important to finally stop it now. If the effects of it have lingered all of these years, then you must empower yourself to finally be free of it now. Decide not to let this person occupy your thoughts and feelings. Do not allow them to invade your life; to make you afraid to walk down the street or intrude on your love life and sexual life. Is the perpetrator “in bed” with you, keeping you from enjoying yourself and your partner? Is your mother’s voice shouting at you degrading you every time you look in the mirror?

Change your beliefs

How long are you going to believe that you are the “worthless piece of shit” you were told you were, or that you would “never amount to anything”, or that you are the “worst child” or the “ugliest kid in school”??? You must change your beliefs! Until you believe…you are wonderful, kind, generous, a great partner, smart, worthy of success or happiness…you won’t be. Make a list of every belief and where it came from. Who told it to you? Was it true, is it still true? Is it working for you to continue to believe it? Purge and get rid of them. Throw them away. Burn them! Do not carry them with you one more day. They are weighing you down like a bag of rocks or a ton of bricks. You are your beliefs!

Become angry

Anger is essential. Anger equals action! Once you are angry enough, you will not tolerate it any longer, and you will do something about it. Without anger you are complacent, passive, powerless, and you cannot protect yourself, set boundaries, or let go and move on.

Maintaining victim role

It is very typical to maintain the victim role, especially when the abuse took place in your childhood. It has become so familiar that you don’t even know you are doing it. It is incredible how deeply engrained your self-image as a victim can be and how habitual feelings of misery and helplessness can be. You go through life continuing to attract that which will victimize you.

You may or may not realize that you maintain yourself in the victim role because it is the only way you know; it’s normal and familiar. There are also secondary benefits to continuing to be the victim. Have you had several friends or partners accuse you of always being the victim and never owning your part?

It can be very beneficial if you do not need to become responsible or accountable and if you blame everyone else. It is very convenient if nothing is your fault, then you don’t have to fix it or change anything about yourself or your behavior. If it’s always the other person’s fault, then they are the jerk, the mean and inconsiderate one, the careless or reckless one. If your marriage or relationship breaks up, do you only focus on what the other person did or did not do to cause it? Can you see your part? If you were sexually abused or had the biggest alcoholic jerk for a father, are you still blaming them for how screwed up your life is now or how unhappy you are now?

Need to move on

Become free! You deserve to be free of the continual pain and hurt this person caused you, free of holding onto it and carrying it around with you everywhere you go and in everything you do. As long as you hold on to what was done to you, the person and hurt and pain, live inside although, you were victimized, you now have power to let it go. Only you can free yourself; no one else can do it for you.

There is no question they are the cause and what they did was very damaging, but you have the choice to heal or not. You can choose to enter therapy and process your feelings and build your self-esteem, and recover your “self”.

Written by: Giselle Belanger, RN, LCSW