Help for the victim

Do you feel like a victim? Do you know someone who seems to have a victimization complex? We all know people who see themselves as victims. Either they do not know how to get out of the victim mode or do not want to.

Amber has a friend, Jodi who is stuck in a very destructive relationship. Jodi tells Amber how unhappy she is. Amber tries to tell her that she deserves better, but Jodi says that she doesn’t seem to have any choices. The relationship allows her some financial security that she will not have if she leaves. Jodi wants this for her children.

Let us see what Amber can do to help Jodi understand how bad this attitude is for her and for her children.

There are many types of victimization. There are times when a person has something quite terrible happen to him such as a drunk driver killing a loved one. Even then, the victim goes through grief and fear, but gets beyond the victim mentality. Sometimes, a person gets stuck in some area of grief. See Escape the Grief Process, page 20. It seems that Ambers friend has chosen to remain a victim, rather than make difficult choices.

When we look at the different personalities, we see that each style is capable of choosing to remain a victim, often for different reasons.

THE DIRECT PERSON believes that he is a victim when someone takes advantage of him. He believes that he has no choices, no plan, and no way to change the circumstances or to win. This often involves another person, life, his money, time or a business. He may say, “He stole my job right out from under me.” 

He is afraid that he will never gain control over the situation. Avoidance is his way to escape, to not lose in a situation he believes he cannot win. An extreme avoidance reaction is a dramatic suicide. “I’ll go out in a blaze of glory. I’ll show them,” he thinks. If he suddenly gets very quiet, check on him.

Help the Direct person by brainstorming with him, offering suggestions to solutions to his problem. This gives him an approach to what seems like an unsolvable problem. This also allows him to believe that the solution is his idea. Do not take it personally if he seems to reject your ideas. You have helped him begin to move in a positive direction.

The Direct Person may turn to alcohol, physical violence, or anything that helps him avoid the situation and diminish his frustration. Offer him safe distractions such as physical activity to help him deal with the stress such as a walk or a game of golf. He needs help to distract him so that he can develop a plan. He needs time to work things out. He may want to talk to someone about his feelings. Show him how he is in control of many other areas in his life. Show him how his single-mindedness is controlling him and that he has to either fix the situation or deal with it and not dwell on it.

THE INFLUENTIAL PERSON believes that he is a victim when he feels that he cannot please anyone. Nothing he does is enough. He feels quite unappreciated, unloved and unlovable. He has talked himself into believing that he has no choices. He is afraid. “Nobody loves me. Everybody hates me. I’m gonna go eat worms.” He suffers loud and long, whether anyone listens or not. The Influential person wants to be around more people, becomes more manic, talks more, talks faster and interrupts more.

Help him by listening to him vent; however, this is a short-term solution. Discuss his anger and fears with him. Point out how his behavior is harming himself and others and that he is letting them down.

The Influential Person becomes more irresponsible, “I just got so busy that I couldn’t do what I promised.” He curses more and uses vulgar expressions. Sometimes he seems almost aggressive.

He is also missing a great deal of fun in his life. You may offer him a distraction to help him remember what fun was like. Fun for an Influential person is a relief. It also is better than a “Nobody loves me and appreciates me” attitude.

The Influential person has unacknowledged bitterness, anger and fear. Venting is his temporary form of relieving his stress. It becomes his comfort zone. Venting does not help him take a risk, make a difficult decision or deal with the consequences of that decision. He may make irresponsible, impulsive decisions, creating a worse situation. He placates others to keep temporary peace. The Influential person may create a situation where other people involved make the decision for him. Discuss his fears with him and help him feel more powerful and capable. Explain that he has value and needs to feel more appreciation for himself.

He feels needy and is dependent on how others view him. He believes that he is getting attention and appreciation by remaining a victim. Remind him that people get tired of listening to him complain. He is, in fact, damaging others’ view of him by his actions. The Influential Person is driving people away and they will not like him if he does nothing to improve the situation.

He can rationalize, “I’m doing it for the family.” This gives him negative attention and admiration. Often women such as Jodi in the beginning example say, “Look how self-sacrificing I am by staying in such an abusive relationship.”

This is the situation with Jodi. She is willing to settle for a bad relationship because she doesn’t believe she can have better and she is complaining to Amber.

“No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it for anyone else.

― Charles Dickens

Help him by showing him the disadvantages to himself and everyone else by his decision to not decide. Explain that things will not get better for the Influential person until he recognizes that he has to act, move out of his comfort zone and to make a decision to improve his life.

THE STEADY PERSON believes that life, others and the world have treated him differently from everyone else, have denied him opportunities others have had. He never had a fair chance. He feels overwhelmed and fearful of life. He feels that he is not accepted for himself. He is an oddball to others. They do not understand him. Life is difficult for him, and nobody seems to care.

The Steady person can be helped by not taking over his responsibilities for him. His life is his responsibility. Do not take his suffering personally. Sympathize, understand, but do not get emotionally involved with his situation. Remind him of his good qualities by listing specific traits he has. Give him positive reinforcement. Build him up. Do not put him down. Tell him what he can do, not what he should do.

The Steady person’s response is to lie down and suffer in silence. He gazes into nothingness. In hopelessness, he sighs, “I just don’t know what to do.” He slows down. He may sleep too much and may eat too much. He may have no appetite at all. He becomes very indecisive and desperate, feeling helpless. “I give up.” He becomes afraid of everything. All personality styles are self-absorbed, but he seems to take it to the limit.

The Steady person gets attention. “Look at me. I am suffering in silence. I am a victim. Won’t you help me? Don’t you feel sorry for me?”  He wants someone to take responsibility for him and make decisions for him. He also does not want to take responsibility for consequences. “If you take care of me, I will appreciate you, so much. Life is too difficult for me. Dying and going to heaven looks quite inviting. Responsibility for my life is too much work.” He will not say this, but you get the message.

To help him, allow him to suffer the consequences of his actions or inactions. He must reach the point that taking a risk is more comfortable than not taking a risk. When he succeeds, drown him in compliments and positive statements. Help the Steady person see that the result of his actions was positive. If it wasn’t positive, show him how to make a better decision next time. Explain the possible action or decision and the corresponding results. The final decision must be up to him.

THE CAUTIOUS PERSON believes that he must do everything possible to keep from feeling guilty. He feels overwhelmed, striving for a standard that is out of his reach. People do not understand why he does what he does or thinks the way he thinks. He explains things over and over, but people do not get it. He eventually, suffers in silence. He overburdens himself with more than he can do. The Cautious person chides himself for not doing all that he has decided he should do. He does not understand what he is feeling and becomes discouraged, depressed.

Help him by showing him that his concept of should may be distorted. Show him how high a price he is paying for doing the right thing, which may not be necessary. He does not have to give up his integrity, just recognize that he can be right and still not be everything to everyone. Show him how pushing himself may be harming others.

The Cautious person does not appreciate how unfair he is to himself by taking on more responsibility than is possible for him to do. He feels guilty for letting someone down. He is driven to do the right thing. Trying to meet all the shoulds and doing the right thing is his way of alleviating his guilt. It gives him temporary relief, but he continues to overburden himself so life never gets easier. He may feel that it is his lot in life not to enjoy life. “How can I be happy when others out there are so miserable?” The Cautious person gets a degree of self-satisfaction and a sense of value as a person from his suffering.

Explain that he does not have to fix everyone’s problems. He is a worthwhile person without having to prove it over and over again. If he does not take care of himself, he will never be able to take care of others.

Show the Cautious person how to prioritize his life so that he has the ability to take care of the most important things and that it is okay to let some things go undone. This is the right thing to do. He has no reason to feel guilty. He cannot be expected to do it all. Once he stops feeling guilty, he will be able to get on with his life.

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be cumbered with your old nonsense.

― Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • How will you help someone who is stuck as a victim?
  • Are you feeling like a victim right now?
  • Do you want to change?
  • If so, based on the above information, how can you help yourself?

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