Exploring your Victim Story
It’s a loaded word. Let’s talk about it from a broader perspective, because it is related to your life more than you may even know.
In my work, there are two ways I talk about this word:
Victimization and Victim Consciousness.
Victimization is when we experience an act that is violent, harmful or unjust.
Victim consciousness is when we perceive ourselves as victimized, despite the nature of the current treatment we are receiving.
Victim consciousness often happens when we’ve been previously victimized and we struggle to integrate the trauma. Therefore, we maintain a perception of victimhood in situations that no longer warrant the feeling.
The reason this can happen is we experience the actual victimization at an age or time when we didn’t have the capacity to acknowledge it, because we were in survival strategies and/or we were dismissed by others. So our actual victimization is buried and then we project these feelings on to situations that are not actually victimizing us.
See how it gets complicated? It’s not that you’ve never been victimized as much as you might not be assigning it accurately.
What’s tricky is who gets to decide when we have actually been victimized and when we are in victim consciousness?
This is where we get stuck as individuals and as a society. We all have different definitions and perceptions of reality. We are each seeing personal and collective situations through our own filters and assigning meaning and labels accordingly.
From my professional vantage point, what I witness is not necessarily about “too much” or “not enough” labeling of victimization. What I see are incorrect assignments that prevent resolution—
I witness situations where individuals or society fail to recognize genuine victimization and therefore do not take the needed actions to repair or heal. I witness situations where people are calling out legitimate victimization and are told they’re playing the victim card or some other thing, in a derogatory way. This word is often weaponized to silence people who have experienced actual victimization. That can then create a cycle of victim consciousness for these individuals and society.
So what to do? What to do?
You know me, it’s always going to go back to addressing your own story. When we honor, integrate and, therefore, heal the places in our life when we have actually experienced victimization, we are more likely to release the veil of victim consciousness. It remains incredibly difficult for us to have clarity and compassion for others when we are inside of our own victim story. If you, or others, have never acknowledged your own victimization, it is more difficult to recognize somebody else’s. It will be clouded with denial, resentment or other difficult feelings.
So how do you distill all of this and get to the heart of the matter? First, it’s just a willingness to address hard stuff—the earliest times in your life when you may have been victimized. Often times, you need somebody outside of yourself to help guide you. Whether that’s somebody like myself, or a therapist or even a healthy close friend or family member (depending on the situation/level of wounding).
Just keep showing up for yourself and gently do the work. You and society will be the better for it.