Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**

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Dutch Uncle

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Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« on: March 21, 2016, 10:01:39 AM »
***possible triggers on Domestic Violence, nasty divorces, mentally ill partners/family***

The importance of being a victim, and knowing that you are.

A meeting with friends a few weeks ago has spiked my interest in this subject.
I think most of us here have experienced "blaming the victim" attitudes in those we thought would be part our support-group, and other factors that make it difficult for us to even accept we have been a victim, or even accept we still are, so many years down the road.

A friend of mine has been going through a really hard time for years now. Long story short (and I'm thus cutting a lot of corners here): His wife went psychotic and completely isolated herself, and after a long struggle he divorced his wife in absentia. His wife simply never replied to any mail, registered mail and didn't show up in court. This process took years, off course: no court will easily divorce a couple with one of the partners not present in any shape or form. She was probably represented by a state-appointed lawyer who never even got to see or speak to her, as she never responded to any of his/her mail either. (I don't know all the legal aspects of this affair)

Only a few weeks ago I learned that at some point in time his wife beat him up, and also a friend at who's apartment they were staying for a while.
That's Domestic Violence.
Yet nobody called her out on it. She was already in a bad mental state at that time, so in a sense it was "shrugged off". A "she needs help, not rebuke" attitude. Possibly quite rightly so.

But I see now (or at least I think so ;) ) that one important part of the equation is missing: Why did these guys not see it for what it (also) was: Domestic Violence, and them being victims ?
Most probably they still don't see themselves as victims. I know for a fact they certainly view the (ex-)wife as a victim of her disease (which is quite probably true) but somehow this exonerates her, with the result they can't view themselves as victims. If there's no perpetrator ((ex-)wife is "besides herself" after all, so there's no 'real' agent/agency to be identified) how can one be a victim?

And I wondered, entered fantasy-land so to speak, what would have happened if they would have been able to see themselves as victims right after they had been beaten up, had gone to the police, filed a complaint, and mentally ill though-not-yet-fully-psychotic wife had been confronted with a police officer showing up at the doorstep saying: "madam, we have had a complaint filed at our office, we want you to come down to the station to get your statement on record. This is a police investigation."?

Ex-husband is still enmeshed with her, can't really 'let go', is pressured to do so, but I think everybody is missing an important clue here: He is a victim. And so is the friend who got beaten up in his own apartment.

Since then I have been working on my own victimhood, so to say.
With the essence being: saying to myself I'm a victim, period. And I must say I feel I'm making progress in my recovery. The urge to JADE seems to have faded. Not gone yet, but much, much less prominent in my thoughts. This includes a much reduced need to speak to my friends on what has happened and is still happening. Since they don't 'get it' anyway, and unfortunately we live in a society that puts such an emphasis on self-care, self-affirmation, self-help, self-expression, self-anything that there is hardly any room for outside interference as being made a victim. If we become a victim, it's again we ourselves have to 'fix' that.
Well, I think I'm slowly coming to a mindset I don't have to fix anything about that. No self-fixing, no self-healing, no self-exonerating, no self-nothing.
Having been made a victim had nothing to do with myself to start with. It was done to my self, which is a completely different perspective on my self in this whole ordeal.
Something along the lines of "I didn't cause it, I can't fix it, I can't cure it."
While that may sound fatalistic (it does to me as I type that) it isn't in my experience. I have more energy, more positive energy for sure and my days and the world does seem less gloomy. (Which might just be Spring, but lets not rain on my own parade I.Cr.!  :pissed: )

I can't really explain what has happened, or what I do differently now. But I think that by accepting that I'm a victim (which does take an effort BTW) I'm much less preoccupied with ruminating on how I could have prevented it, how I could have made it stop sooner etc. etc. Which frees up a lot of energy for: "How do I go on from here?"

I'm a bit astonished it took me a view on a friend of mine who (in my eyes) is still stuck in a (codependent?) relationship with his ex (and whom I have never heard speaking of him being a victim of his wife's illness) to acknowledge to myself I had some 'being a victim'-work to do myself. To end my own codependent and enmeshed tendencies with my abusers, who have made me their victim.
In a sense, this allows me to leave my victimhood with them, for the most significant part, which leaves me with much less to bear, to carry around.
I think. The process is still fresh, young, early.
But the changes I have experienced over the last three weeks or so are remarkable.

I wanted to share.

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tesscaline

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2016, 06:11:33 PM »
Viewing oneself as a victim is something that just about every trauma counselor, every domestic violence support group, advocates against.  Instead, it's encouraged to see oneself as a survivor.  Because viewing oneself as a victim can be self destructive.  Viewing oneself as a victim encourages feelings of powerlessness, self blame, and self shame.  Viewing oneself as a victim internalizes the abuse, and causes it to become part of one's identity. 

It is good to realize that someone else is doing something bad to you.  It's good to be aware that someone else is (or was) victimizing you.  It is good to be aware that this is not your fault.  It's good to realize it to the degree that it helps you get out of the situation and protect yourself.

But it's wholly self defeating to view oneself, to identify oneself, as a victim.  It robs you of your own agency.  It robs you of your own strength.  And it encourages the cycle of abuse to continue -- even if through a different abuser, in a different situation. 

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2016, 06:42:31 PM »
 :yeahthat:

Though I want to 'propose' a caveat: How can I consider myself as a survivor without acknowledging I was a victim to start out with?
I fully accept (or am at least in the process of doing so) that I was victimized, e.g. it was outside my (locus of) control.

At the moment I think I am aware of the very thin line between the two, and as such feel as I'm a koorddanser (1).

As it is for me at the moment, I feel that steering towards acceptance of my 'victimhood' is actually empowering, instead of my previous mindset of "Learned Helplessness".

(1): I'm especially drawn to the translation from Dutch as "equilibrist". Evenwichts-kunstenaar: balance-artist.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 06:45:58 PM by Dutch Uncle »

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tesscaline

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2016, 08:20:59 PM »
Though I want to 'propose' a caveat: How can I consider myself as a survivor without acknowledging I was a victim to start out with?
Because you don't have to be a victim to survive something. 

You survived abuse.  You survived horrible treatment.  You survived betrayal, and hurt, and pain, and suffering.  You survived.

None of that has to make you a victim.  It just makes you a survivor.  :)

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VeryFoggy

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2016, 06:30:45 AM »
DU - Here is my thought.  Anything. ANYTHING that you can look at and see and begin to have compassion for yourself is good. Semantics be damned.  Victim, survivor, target, scapegoat, Call it what you want.  What you call it doesn't matter.  What matters is that you begin to have some compassion and caring for yourself.

This?  Is what we lack. This? Is what we need. We need to care about ourselves.  We have sacrificed our lives in the pursuit of unobtainable love from unobtainable sources and for what?

I cheer you on. ANYTHING that makes you start to feel some compassion and caring for yourself? Be it your friend's story and your most appropriate horror? Whatever can take us over the line and into compassion for ourselves is great and I applaud.

I am so sorry for your friend.  But learning to love and care for ourselves is not selfish, as we have been told. It is what is wrong with us.

We do not love ourselves enough because no one ever loved us so we allow the same cycle to repeat over and over hoping for a new outcome.
And it doesn't work.

Until we get off the merry go round, and say honestly: Okay.  I was never loved.  I think I am loveable. I am not going to hang around with people who treat me like I am not loveable anymore?  We will never learn to love ourselves and have compassion.

Keep going.

Love VF

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2016, 06:43:51 AM »
DU - Here is my thought.  Anything. ANYTHING that you can look at and see and begin to have compassion for yourself is good. Semantics be damned.  Victim, survivor, target, scapegoat, Call it what you want.  What you call it doesn't matter.  What matters is that you begin to have some compassion and caring for yourself.
To start having compassion for me for all these 'elements' of the abuse. I like it.
Thank you, Very Foggy.

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pam

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2016, 05:29:13 PM »
"Victim" is NOT a dirty word....

But in my experience counselors (and maybe well-intentioned, yet ignorant, regular people too) have a real tendency to PREVENT you from calling yourself or your situation that. I myself was very offended that my own counselor would not admit that i was a victim of anything....She kept using the word "survivor" also. In doing that tho, she DENIED and MINIMIZED my life experiences and emotions, the same way that one of my abusers did!  :pissed:

And saying "you survived abuse" almost distances it, as if it's some impersonal thing, "out there", not really attached to your soul. It seems like a partial denial so as not to feel all the feelings that go with it. And I find that way of framing it unhelpful, if not insulting.

If one can truly believe that a victim has no fault in how or why or what they were a victim of, then it shouldn't be such a touchy word. It's OK to be a victim. Just like it's OK to cry. Accepting it can make the next step in healing come on easier and faster.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2016, 05:41:46 PM »
If one can truly believe that a victim has no fault in how or why or what they were a victim of, then it shouldn't be such a touchy word. It's OK to be a victim. Just like it's OK to cry. Accepting it can make the next step in healing come on easier and faster.
:thumbup:  I feel the same way too.

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Sinforoso

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #8 on: May 05, 2016, 12:43:45 AM »
I am new down here and not a native english speaker as i am living in and from México, so for me is difficult to write in english, so i beg you have some patience with me.  Yeah, I totally agree with you: seen myself as a victim had totally change my view on myself, now i don´t waist energy trying to see myself as i haven´t passed trough really tough times. Now i can see myself with a lot of self-compassion for all i have been trough instead of not understanding me and being so judgemental and self-critic with myself because i cannot acomplish what my friends have. I don´t see any problem of seen the life for what it is, if one is a victim, that´s it.  We can start to see ourselves with self compassion (which T also don´t like their clients to be; self-compassionate) That is why i don´t like any T, all they do is brainwash their clients with the new newspeak (see George Orwell 1984) in vogue. The only thing that set people free is speaking the truth.  Hugs from México

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #9 on: May 05, 2016, 07:10:12 AM »
Hi Sinforoso  :wave:  and welcome to Out of the Storm.

I'm glad you can relate, and I agree with what you said and have experienced. For me the journey of accepting I have been a victim of the abuse I suffered is new, but the times I'm most self-compassionate are indeed the times I accept I am a victim and developed coping mechanisms as a result that are not that practical at times.
Instead of beating me up over that, self-compassion works way better, it is far less stressful.
Still, it takes an effort: my 'routine' tends to be beating myself up over it.

I'm not a native English speaker either.  :hug:
To me your English looks fine.

I hope you'll find the community and site of aid in your journey. Our Guidelines for All Members and Guests are here to ensure this a safe environment for you and it will give you an idea of the community we create with each other.

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Danaus plexippus

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #10 on: May 05, 2016, 01:05:28 PM »
Dear Dutch Uncle, Thank you for reminding me of the “I didn’t cause it” principal. The first time the other members in my Women’s Survivors Group told me I was a victim acting out of the motivation of fear; it was a revelation to me.

Regarding newspeak and semantics, the first time a therapist challenged me on the use of the words “I had to” I knew what was coming and to squelch his pontificating further I threw my arms up in the air, waved them about histrionically and said “OK, I CHOOOOOOSE to!” He refused to ever see me again.   

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2016, 11:56:06 AM »
This YouTube vid explains (to me) quite well why it is probably a very good idea to keep in mind that I have been (made) a victim: because it will enable me to let go of frustrated anger, and embrace the 'righteous anger'. Which I will feel anyway, perhaps for the rest of my life. (Intermittently, I may hope. At some point.)

Righteous Anger From Narcissistic Abuse

Follow up vid: Narcissistic Abuse: Understanding Your Anger

Peace.
Dutch.

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Cocobird

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2016, 09:43:29 PM »
i think it's important for me to realize that i was a victim -- a child of abusive adults who didn't take care of me. Once i admitted that, i could stop blaming myself for what happened. it was not my fault.

Once i got past that, i began to think of myself as a survivor.

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Dutch Uncle

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #13 on: June 23, 2016, 04:32:59 PM »
Thank you for sharing this. It does resonate with me that the way you are going to court with accepting victimhood is actually an empowering thing, and enables us to stand up for ourselves.
I'll keep you in my thoughts on Monday.  :yourock:
Don't hesitate to tell your story on your experiences, if you want. I take my hat of to you for doing that. :curtsey:

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Flutterbye

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Re: Accepting I'm a victim. **possible triggers**
« Reply #14 on: June 25, 2016, 01:25:28 AM »
Viewing oneself as a victim is something that just about every trauma counselor, every domestic violence support group, advocates against.  Instead, it's encouraged to see oneself as a survivor.  Because viewing oneself as a victim can be self destructive.  Viewing oneself as a victim encourages feelings of powerlessness, self blame, and self shame.  Viewing oneself as a victim internalizes the abuse, and causes it to become part of one's identity. 

It is good to realize that someone else is doing something bad to you.  It's good to be aware that someone else is (or was) victimizing you.  It is good to be aware that this is not your fault.  It's good to realize it to the degree that it helps you get out of the situation and protect yourself.

But it's wholly self defeating to view oneself, to identify oneself, as a victim.  It robs you of your own agency.  It robs you of your own strength.  And it encourages the cycle of abuse to continue -- even if through a different abuser, in a different situation.
Agreed. I worked for years as a social worker. Male victims have been acknowledged for a very long time in my experience & in my culture, e.g. this is my local (Australian ) service for it http://www.oneinthree.com.au/malevictims. So I must admit, when I first read this thread I found it perplexingly obsolete but then wondered if the struggles and pain expressed here may come from a generation older than mine such as baby-boomers who may not have been exposed to info such as that in the link I provided during their formative, early adult years.

In my experience the key to recovery, repairing the damage of past abuse & being less susceptible to ongoing abuse (either from your long-standing abuser or a new one) is not to focus permanently on attributing blame (and perhaps hatred) towards the perpetrator (and I've survived both male and female abusers) but to attribute blame just long enough to overcome my denial/ignorance about being the victim of their abuse ("I was a victim? noble me? No, it can't be, I'm stronger & smarter than that and too good a person"). then it's time to move on to the next step in recovery and take responsibility for the damage the abuse caused; when I was ready to do this I found this phrase such a helpful summary, "They broke it, you fix it." It's so short but contains years of recovery work for me  :)

Imo denial comes in many complex forms and is a real blocker to insights & accepting what abuse happened & the long-term damage it caused. Attributing blaming to the perp was an important but temporary place to dwell, after that all my hard work began! These days perps are long gone but the damage is within me so recovery is all about me & trying to improve my dysfunction (suffering).

Source - 'From Trauma to Enlightenment' by Daniel Mackler and Frederick Timm.