Victimhood: The Easy Way


As we begin today’s conversation, let’s start with a simple truth: No one can become a victim without their permission.

Really? Well, what about people who have well and truly been abused and disadvantaged? C’mon, aren’t they victims? No, they may very well have been abused and disadvantaged; those are factual determinations. Victimhood is a state of mind. A choice.

A better choice is being a survivor.

The best choice is being a thriver.

And you can choose any of the three. Yes, it really is simply a matter of choice. Is it easy to make the right choice? No. Not at all. Is it worthwhile? Completely. And life changing. To paraphrase, “I took the hard road. And that made all the difference.”

Let’s follow up with another simple truth: It is dramatically easier to be a victim than it is to overcome, survive and thrive. First, you’ll get sympathy from friends and family (as well as people on social media). They will take your side against your abuser, and confirm that you are indeed a victim. They will point out other instances of similar abuse, claiming that you are in a certain class of victims who have been victimized by an identified class of abusers. Quite likely, groupings including gender, economic status, and ethnicity will be cited, attempting to prove that specific classes of victimizers target defined classes of victims.

Second, settling for being a victim means that other people need to change, be punished, apologise or make amends and restitution before you can stop being a victim and get on with life in a healthy way. “She did this to me!” strongly implies that “she” needs to do something to make your world right again. And isn’t that giving a lot of power to “her?”

More specifically, you will get strong reinforcement from two groups who need to solidify your choice to be a victim to meet their own needs. The first group is other victims, especially ones whose story is similar to yours. Yes, misery loves company, but it is more than that. They need to connect with victims of their type in order to support their choice to be (and remain?) victims themselves. The second group is more powerful and insidious. These are the people and groups that support and nourish the victimhood industry. They are easily recognized by what they say. “It’s not your fault.” “Somebody needs to fix this.” “Let’s get the government involved now to make this right and be sure that nothing like this ever happens again.” The first group needed company to support their choice. The second group needs more and more victims to support themselves as victimhood professionals. The fame and fortune they so cravenly seek can be attained only with a growing number of people labeled as victims. As part of their efforts to identify more and more victims, they will dramatically and unfairly expand the definition of the “crime.” A compliment can now be cited as victim-creating sexual abuse. A flight attendant humorously reciting “Eenie meenie miney mo” as passengers are selecting their seats can be seen as racial abuse. Companies providing free bus service to employees and not to everyone can be seen as economic abuse. Far fetched, you might say? Hardly. All of these are real examples.

Abuse can very well be real. And deeply damaging. It needs to be discovered and punished. And prevented whenever possible, using any available and appropriate means.

Being a victim is even more damaging. Far more. And long lasting. We owe it to ourselves and those around us to take the successful, hard way, the non-victim way. It really is a choice. “I have been abused, but I refuse to be a victim.” This correct, hard road can be long and lonely. Let’s be the people who dig in to support that choice in our friends and family. And encourage the overall development of non-victim thinking. Those choosing non-victimhood are the ones who need and deserve the support as they walk the hard road.

And thrive.

Will Luden, writing from my home office at 7,200’ in Colorado Springs.

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6 Responses

  1. Charlie Reply

    Gotta disagree with you a bit on this one. You can be a victim of fraud, physical abuse or even psychological abuse. Someone or some situation can cause you loss or pain. That makes you a victim in that circumstance. In some cases, there may be a need for some person or group to help you recover from that loss.
    That being said, you are right that one should not let that loss define him/her. That is just granting power to the victimizer. It’s ignoring the gratitude we should have for the life, friends and treasure that we do have, and letting what was lost define us, a very tempting cop-out.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Hi Charlie, many thanks for your comments. I am having trouble communicating my definition of victim, just as I did with defining “offended” in a previous blog. Back in the (our?) day, victim meant nothing more than an innocent person who had been harmed. Today, it is being made to mean anyone who is–or claims to be–harmed and is therefor entitled. And far less personally responsible for surviving and thriving. Some took deep offense at my blog saying that no one could be offended without their permission (same basic thought). The negative reaction, primarily outside this comment area, focused on how people ought to be offended by certain words and actions. Perhaps. To me, however, that still involves permission and choice. Between action and reaction is choice. OK, time to try another method of communication; ESP, perhaps? :).

  2. Sid Reply

    I really like where you’ve been going here. It is important not to let an event or a series of circumstances define your identity. A person may well have been victimized without taking on the identity of being a victim. That’s a tough distinction for some to make. It is an astute observation that there is a second group that has an agenda for subsidizing the victim-hood industry. Sadly, one can indeed “follow the money” to see that this group is actually self serving and parasitic. They thrive on the misfortune of others. Hopefully you and others will continue to bring this truth to the surface in order to restore equilibrium to our listing ships of community and country.

  3. Tim Larson Reply

    Distinguishing between being a victim and “living as a victim” can be challenging. The US girls gymnastics team, unfortunately, were victims. They are one by one deciding whether that will define them, but more importantly, working through the hard stuff and figuring out how to move on. That abuse will likely not define very many of them – they’re strong, courageous and determined. Same stuff that made them great gymnasts. The very few comments I heard made me optimistic they will not live as victims but move forward with great strength.

    Differentiate that with a chef I saw the other night on a Top Chef competition. She lives with a “chip on her shoulder” as my folks would say. She talked a lot about how everything went against her due to her gender and ethnicity. This became such a theme that it became a distraction. It was a “card” she played as to why she had difficulty, didn’t win, etc. She ended up losing and leaving.

    Occurred to me that while I may judge her to have an attitude issue, I have no clue what her story is. How did she develop her view and attitude? She may have been abused, fired inappropriately, or rejected due to her gender or ethnicity. I have no way of knowing. She could decide to have a different attitude, which I suspect would affect – positively – how people view her. But having never walked in her shoes, judging her for her attitude puts me at risk of being, as my kids would say, “clueless”. Had I experienced what she had, I might have the same attitude.

    • Will Luden Reply

      Tim, many thanks. I struggled with the correct vocabulary, but I think that we are in principle agreement. Maybe we need a new word for victim; one that would correctly separate the innocents who were used and abused by others, and did not adopt a victim mentality–from those who went through either real or imagined maltreatment, and embraced victimhood. I do like Sid Yoder’s comment (below): “A person may well have been victimized without taking on the identity of being a victim.” Cheers,

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