Webster’s dictionary tells us the definition of a victim is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. Synonymous with sufferer or casualty. Another definition is a person who is tricked or duped. This definition carries synonyms such as, loser, prey, stooge, sucker, fool and chump.
I once lived in a State of Victimhood. I was the victim of childhood molestation, psychological abuse, physical abuse, rape, and many other traumas, as a child and as an adult. At the time, I would have told you that living in a State of Victimhood kept me aware and protected me. It gained me allies in my quest for safety. It allowed me to meet other victims to compare notes, forming a sort of sisterhood of victimhood. But, being in a State of Victimhood took from me as well.
As women, we’re influenced early on how powerless we are. Disney and all their good intentions, has up until recently, always put female characters in the role of needing to be rescued or the State of Victimhood (SoV). Not simply rescued either. No, after being rescued, it was typically expected to be married off to the hero and be protected for ever after. I always did want to see what happily ever after actually looked like. I was the strange kid that wanted to see sequels to Snow White and Cinderella. Of course, I also cried bullshit on how complacent Cinderella seemed in her servitude, and how happy Snow White was picking up after seven messy little men.
Disney wasn’t the only culprit either. Aside from very few, scantily clad, female, comic book superheroes, that still seemed to need the helping hand of their male counterparts, movies and TV shows only seemed to cast women in lessor roles. Lessor meaning, not as intelligent, strong, or quick witted as their male counterparts. I’m happy to see this changing.
We were taught that chivalry was defined as men who went out of their way to do nice things for us. It was expected for men to hold doors, help us with our coats, or just always be available to us to help us with our various helplessness. Hey, I enjoyed the hell out of this concept. Right up until I realized just how helpless it made me appear. It was never that I couldn’t do for myself. The act of constant chivalry took from me the desire to do many things for myself. Don’t get me wrong, we women do lots of nice things for men in the same manner, so it could be seen as a fair trade. Women just don’t have a name like chivalry to give us recognition for these things. But that’s another topic entirely.
I want to get back to victimhood. The definitions I wrote above could be attributed to just about everybody on the planet at one time or another. Everyone has been a victim of something in their lives. To be a victim is commonplace.
To stay a victim, or being in a SoV, is a choice.
I know I’m going to ruffle a lot of feathers with that statement. I’ve not only known people that made the choice to stay in the SoV, I’ve been that person. In the past, I’ve allowed myself to use the SoV as an excuse for not being farther along in my life’s endeavors. I’ve used the SoV to gain attention when I’ve felt I’ve needed it. I’ve even allowed fear to hold me in my SoV. And the sisterhood of Victimhood? Well, there’s a difference between supporting one another and happily dragging each other down into the same abyss.
Being a victim and being in a State of Victimhood are two different things. Being a victim is someone who has been subject to the definitions stated above. Being in a SoV is someone who has been subject to the definitions stated above and has decided consciously or unconsciously to continue to identify as a victim long after the incident has passed. To have been a victim does not put you in a SoV. To willingly continue to be a victim, does.
In my opinion, based on my own experiences, the SoV strips women of their power. Not only does the SoV keep us from enjoying life, but it also keeps us from taking responsibility for that life. The very act of taking responsibility gives us back our power. It allows us to see the role we played in a situation, and make no mistake, we play a role in every situation that involves us. Even bystanders play a role, active or not. This is not to say we should beat ourselves up with the could haves or the should haves. This also does not mean in any way that we should accept blame when we’re victimized. The act of taking responsibility is to be aware that everyone, in every situation, effects in some way, the outcome of that situation. Taking responsibility gives us a greater opportunity to learn from situations in which we were victimized. “Poor me”, doesn’t actually solve anything or prevent it from ever happening again.
Being in a SoV can make you feel powerless. Some people feel they’re powerless to even leave the SoV. Abused children and spouses, to name a few, fall into this category. Yet, I’ve known a few of those who’ve found the courage to speak up and leave their situations and their SoV.
Instead of consoling someone in a SoV with how sorry you are that they’re going through something, maybe we could simply say, “I’m here for you. How can I help you find your power over this?”
None of this is meant in any way to shame victims. Somehow, taking responsibility has become synonymous with blame. The very word, responsibility breaks down to the ability to respond. If someone didn’t directly cause a situation to happen, that someone is not to blame for the situation happening to them. At the same time, being present in a situation has an effect, even indirectly, to the situation.
Let’s say someone is being physically hurt while a bystander looks on and does nothing. Could it not be said that the bystander could’ve helped? If the bystander had in fact gotten involved, there would’ve been an obvious change in outcome. The same can be said if the bystander didn’t get involved. They are still part of the variable. So, yes, even a bystander affects a situation’s outcome. If a bystander can effect the outcome of a situation, why do we as victims get to make the claim that we had no effect?
Holding grudges or withholding forgiveness is a form of willingly remaining in a SoV. I understand that some feel like a grudge is a sign of mistrust. But, it’s mostly a sign of refusing to stop gnawing on a bone. Letting go of a grudge or forgiving someone of a wrong should never be done in order to let someone off the hook or for their relief. Letting go of a grudge or forgiving someone is an act of self care. It allows you to move forward with your life and leave your SoV. It’s not even something the other person needs be aware of. You do it for you.
I can say honestly that I didn’t always feel this way. Having been a victim and having been in my SoV comfort zone, taking responsibility was a lot of work. I was hurting and in no way did I want to feel responsible for any of my pain. I can’t tell you why it was so comfortable in my SoV. Maybe it was simply easier. It’s a fact that changing the way you react or respond to situations is hard work. At least it’s hard to start. Once I became aware of the power I regained just by simply taking responsibility, it became easier and easier.
I survived. That in itself shows my strength. Instead of reliving traumatic moments and using the feelings and emotions those moments invoke to stagnate me in a negative space, I’m now able to look at those moments in a new way. I’m able to assess my role. I’m able to think of ways my role could’ve been different. In this process, I learn how I might handle the situation differently if it were to ever arise again. I use the fact that I survived to remind me of my strength.
I have suffered traumas since this realization. I have been a victim after my new found awareness. I’ve taken responsibility for my role in those situations. I allowed myself to feel the emotions I needed to feel. I allowed myself to grieve. I forgave where it was needed for my own well being, and then I let it go.
Yes, I was a victim. But I choose not to live in a State of Victimhood.
Living in a state of victimhood is not a joyful place. Not only would I not wish it on anyone, but if any of you believe that you are , I hope for you to find your way out. Don’t try to do it alone. Talk to someone that can help you find your strength and regain your power. Believe in yourself. You’re a survivor.
But, this is Just One Woman’s Opinion.