In the information space, we often come across the concept of “sacrifice”. Some tell us from television and radio receivers about the events during which victims appeared, while others teach us how not to become victims.
This article is more likely for those who know firsthand about the role of the victim, as well as for people who need an algorithm for the prevention of this position and basic knowledge of self-defence. Our goal is to strengthen personal security.
In the psychological community, there is a clear definition of the “role of the victim” – this is a human condition in which, subjectively, one feels oneself a victim of circumstances or of someone’s negative actions.
On this definition, many concepts are built, designed to help the victim get out of the captivity of the situation or get rid of the harmful effects. The first thing that we can hear during personal growth trainings or transformational marathons is conscription slogans and attitudes that motivate the group to leave the “comfort zone” and “stop being a victim”, take responsibility for their lives and begin to step forward into a bright future. The role of the victim is almost always revealed with some negative touch.
Of course, the truth is there. The victim’s position is characterised by an external locus of control – when responsibility for what is happening is transferred to the outside (state, fate or other people). Many works have been written on this topic, in which the causal relationships of the phenomenon are clearly laid out. The Karpman Triangle is the very classic and the theoretical basis of the victim phenomenon.
What do you do if you are a successful and independent person and, at the same time, undergo an abuse? Perhaps, you are a victim by accident! Here, we can hardly apply the triangle system, and the main question remains: What can you do about it and how do you protect yourself from living the experience of the victim.
Let’s talk about the victim’s chameleon today. For me, this concept is much broader than the “role of the victim” or “victim’s syndrome”. This is what unites the different highlights and shades of the person’s sacrifice, while drawing a line from the common denominator under them. So, welcome to the world of prevention of low self-esteem, treacherous empathy and the eternal “I must”!
It is impossible to say with certainty that the model of the victim in the system of dependencies/ co-dependency prevails, while the number of victims of this type is large. I am talking now about those people who live with a partner suffering from any form of addictive behaviour (alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling, etc.). It should be noted that the victims of this category, as a rule, enter into relations from an already formed sacrificial position. They sacrifice themselves in the name of … something, they think, more. In general, such people “lay themselves on the sacrificial altar” in a typical fashion. They certainly do not do it for the first time (here, it is appropriate to look for sources in childhood).
This is exactly the example of the role of the victim, which fully corresponds to the description in the theory of Karpman’s triangle and reveals the entire cartography of the internal feelings and ‘pains’ of the object. Here, we can safely say that our need for sympathy, pity, support, rejection of maturity (infantilism) etc. has adapted to receive energy only from the role of the victim. The main motto when working with such co-dependents is to live yourself and let another live! There, there is no other option. The position of the victim in such cases is directly related to the addiction, including the victim himself. For example, it may be being financially dependent on the patient with alcoholism. Here, it is necessary to establish several processes at the same time: Learn how to independently provide for your needs and take responsibility for your life, work with self-esteem; deal with a lot of feelings etc.
The next and, in my opinion, a completely different story is pure emotional and psychological violence, often with the use of physical variables. In the modern world, it is called abuse. The term is relatively new, but the type of violence exists almost as much as relationships between people.
If there is violence, there is always a victim. Studies show that women most often become such – for example, due to domestic violence. Although it is possible at work to find an abuser – the boss, who subtly makes a subordinate feel like a complete nonentity and experience emotional suffering, the nature of this role of the victim will differ in many ways from the previous one.
Abusers (persons committing psycho-emotional violence) most often prefer to choose their own attention! – Successful, independent, having a family and friends…and a secured victim. The more interesting it will be to destroy her.
Having contacted the abuser, it is extremely difficult to recognise it. The first time, while the torturer examines his prey, everything in the relationship is fine. But, it lasts exactly until he finds her weak points. Then, he is cold and prudently goes into action.
It usually begins with insults and violations of personal boundaries. Further development depends on how much the supportive environment will “sober” the victim. As a rule, the abuser seeks to further isolate the victim from relatives and friends, to deprive her of support. The next blow is self-rated. “Behind every successful man is the love of a woman. Behind every successful woman is the betrayal of a man” – the very betrayal that remains in the press on our self-esteem, while being a powerful motivator for material achievements, career takeoff and development. Well, then the abuser slowly and surely wraps its prey with tentacles and drags it to the bottom. Remember the tale of Mukhu-Tsokotukha – the moment when it hit the spider web and the mosquito has not yet arrived? That’s what it looks like.
What is the reason why a successful woman falls victim to an abuser? This is due to the treacherous empathy. Each abuser has its own “tearful legend” of its experience. The victim is able to empathise with his states and explain them, each time finding him an excuse. At the same time, she completely forgets about herself, betrays herself and voluntarily gives up for mercy. After a short time, she, herself, begins to doubt that she is right. “After all, he says that he loves me and is afraid of losing me – that’s why he is jealous … and our family … well, it hits me, because I have a hot man, and I just got my arm …”
It is important to remember that it is impossible to negotiate with the exporter, to explain something to him. For one reason, he has another goal: To exhaust the victim and to morally destroy her. One will “end” – there will be the next one, then.
According to my observations and research, each abuser suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. Accordingly, the process of tormenting the victim cannot be stopped without correcting the personality disorder of the abuser himself.
The main thing that is capable of working in self-help for an abuse victim is the recollection of the fact that we can and must (ourselves) protect ourselves! The second is an appeal for help outside. Now, there are groups in social networks for victims of the abuse. If there is no possibility to go online, you just have to go to people and talk about what is happening. In this situation, there is nothing shameful for the victim – except for himself because of self-reliance, and this can be dealt with later.
Remember: it is impossible to part with an abuser in a “good way”. If it is decided to ask for help, then it is not necessary to inform him about it, otherwise it will eliminate this desire. He is not interested in a constructive solution. He lives by torturing the victim and wants her to remain in his power for as long as possible.
As a prevention of this experience, I recommend paying more attention to your personal boundaries – I also call them the boundaries of the healthy “I”. Learn to protect yourself. In other words, become a loving and approving parent. Taking this opportunity! I remind you that the main task of parents in front of their children is to ensure their safety.
The last type of victim for today is the victim of maniacs.
According to the tests, conclusions and assumptions of forensic psychiatrists, it is still impossible to create a clear portrait of the victim of a maniac. For a person who commits manic actions outside the law, the choice of the victim will be governed by the nature and course of mania. Unfortunately, in our society, it is still believed that if a woman was subjected to violence, she herself is to blame: she put on a short skirt or put on bright lips. This is not true. There is no clear description of how long the skirt should be or what tone of lipstick will provoke the offender or, on the contrary, will save him.
It is natural to think that a maniac must somehow represent himself: a mad look, a sloppy look, a problem speech or a particularly nervous behaviour. And, this is also not the case. The maniac, from crime to crime, improves, while debugging schemes and bringing them to perfection. That is why it is very difficult to catch. Often, debugging maniacs go into the serial class. At the same time, many of them can be characterised, by their appearance and speech, as quite reliable.
There is an assumption that people with a hyperactive “I have to” belief are in the risk group. For example: I must help, I must show, I must agree, I must endure.
In order to prevent and develop reactive action (detailed instructions are on the internet in the public domain):
Learn to scream. Give yourself permission to cry right now.
Learn to protect yourself and give yourself permission to do so.
Watch your boundaries. Pushing them or the appearance of aggression in response to their designation can be considered an alarming sign. Quietly say goodbye to such a person.
In the event of a critical situation, immediately try to induce vomiting in yourself. Instigate a disgust for your body with the aggressor (stories like “I have AIDS” are ineffective here).
A couple of years ago, I took part in a large conference on the theme “Healthy Therapy”. I really remember the words of a fairly well-known professor, the chief physician of a psychiatric hospital and the author of many books and teaching aids. He said: “The main disease of the healthy part of our society is that we have developed a meanness called personality disorder.” And, you know, I agree with him. As a specialist in the field of psychology and psycho-correction, I need to know all the classifications and symptoms and cause-and-effect relationships, and be able to “comb the brains” of my clients. Such a job! At the same time, during the session with the patient, the therapist is obliged to keep his/her boundaries.
See you in person at the programme “Frontiers of Healthy I”!
Take care of yourself and your time – and be healthy!
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