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