Victim Mentality: It's for Sale, but are you Buying it?
Let’s talk… Victim Mentality.
What is it?
Why does it exist?
How can we prevent it?
The victim mentality is highly criticized, yet magnified in American culture. Not to say other nations don’t victimize their own, but in the United States, we love a good victim. Case in point, the news. If you’ve ever watched, you know that doom, gloom, and terror are all the rage. The news loves to perpetuate that we are ALL victims of an US vs. THEM society. US vs. rapists, US vs. stalkers, US vs. thieves of ANY kind. The news loves to sell us fear tactics in order to keep us scared of each other.
Does this mean rapists, stalkers, and thieves don’t exist? Of course not. But the news magnifies these stories because it wants you to believe you are helpless and hopeless. Leading you back to… US vs. THEM.
The fact is, if you are a victim you depend on others for help and support. You can’t possibly help yourself. You “need” someone or something else. This is partially true.
We are not alone on this planet. You can reach out and ask for help. But if you tune into the news and various media outlets, you’ll believe you need to protect yourself from others. Get a gun. Take self-defense classes. Carry mace AT ALL TIMES!
There is no conversation about how to truly prevent harm. Such as, what is causing the victim mentality in the first place? Why is it easier to cower and point fingers instead of standing up and asking questions? Why do we make claims such as: “It’s none of my business; They should’ve…; If only…”? If only… WHAT? They should’ve… WHEN? It’s none of my business… WHY? Who are they to say? Who are we to judge? How can we get to the point when US is US? Which leads me back to the beginning.
When I first began my journey as a speaker for survivors of sexual assault, I was often interviewed by local news stations. Of all the interviews I participated in over five years (twelve), only one ever aired. Why? As my then CEO stated: “Because you didn’t cry, you didn’t break down, you didn’t blame the perpetrator. You’re not a good enough victim.” I simply didn’t play the part.
In real life, I lived the role almost daily. I didn’t know it. Absolutely denied that I showed it. Yet, people would often come to my aid telling me that it was “going to be okay”. They tended to my “wounds”, asked me what I needed, and didn’t blame me for feeling the way I felt. I believed them, because I needed them. I needed to continue to play the role because it was all I knew.
Why? Because I was a victim. I wasn’t allowed to be anything else. Instead, I was reminded of my role all the time. From the news, movies, music… media in general. US vs. THEM. I was a product of my environment, and my environment was tainted. Regardless of where I “came from”, the same messages made their way to me and gave me a script on how to be. Confused, scared, angry. About what I was seeing and hearing, and especially how I was unable to change what was unless I asked for help outside myself.
As a person whose purpose is to help those who feel helpless, why am I telling you this? Because you don’t “need” me. You don’t “need” anyone or anything outside yourself to convince you of who you truly are. No one did that for me. They tried. Did they ever. But until I recognized for myself that I was placing the blame on myself, over and over and over again, I couldn’t see past what society was selling me.
“It wasn’t your fault.”
“You’re not alone.”
“I’m here for you.”
I’m grateful, and… who’s there when you’re not?
Around and around you go, following in the footsteps of others, hoping to find yourself a way out.
Victim mentality is easier to control. To keep you confused, is to keep you controlled. To keep you scared, is to keep you controlled. To keep you angry, is to keep you controlled. US vs. THEM. Yet, if victim mentality is merely a tactic to keep you in line, what happens if say, you decide to thrive?
What happens if you decide to take a look at your past and ask questions that you never dared before? Why did that happen? What must’ve happened to them/him/her to contribute to the hurt? Who hurt them/him/her first? It’s easy to play the victim and forget there are other victims involved.
I was guilty of this. I only thought of my own hurt for decades. Now I know better. I know what I’ve been through, questioned and empathized what others went through, and know what it took to get to a place of not feeling like a victim. I had to take ownership of how I got there and who modeled the way.
Besides media, there were my parents who abused and neglected me during my childhood. As the only girl in the household, I was taught that girls were “less than”. My mother blamed me for being sexually assaulted because, “I shouldn’t have…”, yet hid her own harm for decades for fear of appearing to be a victim. Not to mention my father literally victimized himself throughout the marriage, pretending he was happy as a man, knowing he always wanted to be a woman. Yet as a man, when my mother told me (at 18 years old) that I’d never “find a husband” because I didn’t “know how to cook”, my father interjected, “As long as you can cook in the bedroom, it won’t matter if you can cook in the kitchen”. Victim mentality. I wasn’t enough, as is, so let me learn how to give you more… time, attention, myself.
I was raised to be a victim by victims. We all are. If not in our homes, then definitely in our society.
“Watch out; Be careful; Protect yourself.”
I am. I have. And I will… from the mentality that all I can be is a victim. I am, and always have been capable of more. Thankfully others recognized the same and showed up to share their truths. I heard them and when their words and actions resonated, instead of denying that I could ever follow suit, I reflected. I took account of my life and recognized where I wanted to thrive, and ever since… even with missteps here and there (and there WILL be missteps), I have baby stepped my way to something other than what was expected.
I was a victim.
I’ve been a survivor.
But the role that fits best… I am a Thriver.
Here’s the happy ending… you are too.