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by Nancy D. on 10/06/18

I was speaking to a friend the other day and the discussion went to the phrase "acting like a victim", with regard to their responses to things in life.  Someone else, had said this about them.  This phrase was upsetting, because my friend had striven for the last several years to change who they were and find different ways of coping with lifes dissapointments and set backs.

  Normally, like me, this person would go into "victim mode".  That place I have, on more than one occassion, retreated to when I've felt attacked or that life just hasn't gone my way.  Sometimes, multiple set backs in life can be so defeating, victimization is the only explanation, it feels, at times.

As years went on and life situtions happened, I have suffered some bad outcomes for decisions I made.  In those times, I felt victimized.  I felt like somehow, I just wasn't meant to get ahead, or always seemed to struggle for things to go my way in life.  My go-to defense was victimization.   Looking back, I think I came to this, because I had been victimized as a child.  No matter what my intentions were to be good or noble or not "get in trouble" when I was younger, there always seemed to be some bad thing just waiting around the corner. 

  If things were going great, for some reason my mother would be angry with me.  If  I was nice or polite or smiled at an older man, he would think it ok to put his hands on me.  I wasn't "asking" to be abused, I was being polite as my parents taught me.  If I studied hard or listened in class and still failed the test, which I often did, I would get punsihed.  There always seemed to be a negative consiquence for just about everything.  So, I grew up with the internal dialog of victimization.  I grew up believing no matter how hard I tried or how I behaved, the next shoe would drop, regardless.

I look back now, and I grew up thinking I had no control over much of anything.  Bad consequences were the norm.  It was like, no one noticed the good things I did, but let me do one thing wrong and it was like sounding the warning bell from a trumpet.  Not only did one person know, it seemed the entire family and all of my parents' close friends would find out about it too.  

Shame, is a huge part of victimization.  When I suffered negative consequences, it impacted me in a lot of shame.  If I got in trouble in school, or church or said the wrong thing or didn't say ma'am when I answered someone, I was called out and publicly shamed in front of whomever was there.  I think, this is the reason my go-to response grew into one of victimization. 

 I was shamed, therefore, I was a victim.  If I were molested earlier in life or abused by a boyfriend later, I could go to no one.  The fear of being shamed for something I may or may not have done to contribute to the consequence of being abused, was something I could not face.  It's bad enough to be victimized at the hands of someone else, it's hard to be re-victimized by a critical audience who only seemed to react to the things I did wrong in life.

This is why it is hard for victims of abuse to come forward.  We've wrestled with the consequences of first being abused at the hands of someone more powerful, now we are vunerable to a crowd of non- believers, who further grind salt in that wound.  We become shunned, isolated, judged, shamed, questioned, and riduculed, by the very people we seek to finally tell, and then hope to protect us from the abuse.  Many cannot roll the dice and speak out.  We've seen how our other sisters and brothers have been nailed to the wall when they've finally come out and said something.  

The way that I can reclaim my power, is to do what "I" need to do.  I may need to seek counseling, or a program of support, or confide in trusted friends, educate myself and ultimately help others, who do what they feel, they need to do and tell a trusted soul.  Others may need to write, or to become an artist or workout or run or adopt a bunch of pets.  In my opinion, the way to not further be a victim of cirucumstance, is to take back my power in the things I can do and not allow others the power to reside over me, on whether they believe me or not.  Others have their own ways.  There is no "right or wrong" way.  It is whatever that victim needs to do in order to re-claim their power and not be further victimized, by the situation that did that to them to begin with.  In whatever capacity that works for them.

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