Victim Consciousness and Victimized are NOT the Same Thing; Clearing the Confusion …

It startles and saddens me when I am accused of being a “victim basher.” And yet, taken out of context, and without understanding, I can see how my words might lead one to think such thoughts. Nothing, however could be further from the truth, Please allow me to clarify the difference between being victimized and being in victim consciousness – for they are not the same thing at all.:
Victim consciousness is a state of consciousness that can exist whether or not we've been victimized. Of course there are REAL victims! That is Reality. There are victims of all kinds of sordid abuse, of disease, of disaster, and on and on … However did you know that although we might be (or have been ) a victim without going into victim consciousness?
Victim Consciousness is a state of mind that has to do with how we frame the things that happen to us …  actually we can be in victim consciousness even if we haven't been victimized at all! Victim consciousness is the state of mind we lapse into anytime we blame our circumstances on someone or something outside ourselves. Victims of victim consciousness see themselves as being at the mercy of their life circumstances – they see themselves as being powerless, hopeless, and at the mercy of outside forces. They believe the outside world must change before they can be happy or at peace. They believe the world and others must be different before they can be okay, which is the primary reason people attempt to control others and their surroundings! Often simply the fact that someone disagrees with us or says something we don't like can spiral us into victim consciousness!
The truth is that we are NOT at the mercy of our surroundings. What happens to us does not have to determine how we think or feel. Reality says that it's what we tell ourselves ABOUT what's happening around us that determines our degree of inner peace. We are in charge of the way we feel and think and react … else we truly are like leafs in the wind, being blown about by every breeze that comes along.
Although someone (and I speak from my own life experience) may hurt, offend, attack, or threaten us – we get to choose how we will perceive, feel, and react to it. This is what those who are NOT living in victim consciousness know and practice. Even horrendous happenings cannot rob us of peace unless we allow it. We may be victims but victim consciousness is always optional. We can be victimized terribly and choose NOT to collapse into victim consciousness!
And here's something else to chew on … every abuser or perpetrator IS indeed in victim consciousness.
Why? Because persecution and perpetration are acts that come from a BELIEF that one has been unfairly treated, and therefore must vindicate the wrongdoing they feel they have endured from others. Persecutors enter a state of victim consciousness to JUSTIFY victimizing others! To persecute another is to see ONESELF as a victim who is simply acting in self-defense so they strike out at, or overpower others to vindicate or protect themselves.
Of course, persecutors end up, most often, with consequences for their behavior that reinforces their own “victim” stance. This is what the Victim Triangle, which defines the three defense strategies of Victim CONSCIOUSNESS teaches. My job is to share with others the nature of victim consciousness so that they KNOW they have a choice – not side with abusers! I teach the victim triangle which clearly describes the three roles we play when we are in victim consciousness and shows us that NO MATTER WHATE ROLE WE START OUT IN ON THE VICTIM TRIANGLE, SOONER OR LATER, WE END UP IN VICTIM – YES EVEN PERSECUTORS.
I myself have been victimized. During childhood, I was sexually, physically, and emotionally abused. I have been terrorized and terrified. I understand the pain and emotional damage that can occur when we take on the abuse done to us as being ABOUT us – and yes, it IS difficult NOT to take it on and personalize abuse. And yet, IF THERE IS TO BE TRUE HEALING, and inner peace we must indeed stop seeing ourselves as victims and begin to see ourselves as survivors and thrivers instead.
Moving OUT of Victim Consciousness, and beyond the seeing of ourselves as forever victims who must live painful lives because of what someone else did to us (without denying the victimization OR giving in to it) IS imperative if we are going to be able to achieve the goals we want to achieve. And, yes, it is a process – often a long one. I am not trying to minimize the process of healing from having been victimized that one must go through to move into the belief that “I get to choose how I will see, believe, feel, and react to this.”
I discovered during my own process of healing, the barrier that Victim CONSCIOUSNESS was causing in me. I saw clearly that blaming my persecutors (which does not mean I make excuses for them or that I try and protect them from the full ramifications of their behavior) was only holding me captive to a reduced identity of myself as being damaged goods.
I spent years of doing exactly that, blaming, and feeling less than, feeling unworthy and irreparably damaged by what happened to me until I finally realized that it was my thinking about what had happened to me, and not the happenings themselves, that were holding me back. As long as I believed that I was forever damaged by what had happened to me, I continued to feel and act the part of the forever wounded victim. (Remember the Universal principle that says: “When we believe what we think, we automatically feel and act as if it is true ,,, “.) I saw that seeing myself as a victim was what was holding me prisoner, and NOT the act itself!
YES, I believe that abusers and perpetrators need to experience consequences for what they do. As a matter of fact, I am a BIG believer in allowing people to face the full brunt of the consequences of their choices – for I believe that is the only way to see the need to do it different next time.
It's just that I stopped making myself miserable to prove to my abusers, myself, and the world, how badly I'd been damaged. I got tired of limping through because someone abused me, and  decided instead to focus my thoughts and life energy on living my life in a way that was empowering. I decided to let the abuse turn me into a stronger, wiser, more flexible person so that I could live my life to it's fullest, biggest capability – and THAT HAS  WORKED FOR ME.
My work is for those who are interested in learning more about transforming our victim consciousness (we all lapse into it at times, btw). I am not molly-coddling persecutors, nor bashing victims at all. I am simply saying no to victim consciousness. There's a big difference between the two stances. I hope this writing helped to clarify those differences.

7 Responses

  1. This is all true at an interpersonal level. But what of individuals born into an impoverished zip code and stuck in a low wage labor market that pinches off all but the narrowest opportunities for a bettering themselves? Are we to conclude these people are simply indulging in victim consciousness if they seek collective action or systemic change to better themselves and their communities? In an interdependent society where the economic determinants of our health and well-being are as much social and systemic, both “abusers” and “victims” exist within a larger social and economic system that can legitimately identified as unjust.

    1. Dear Jeffrey,
      Thank you for sharing your questions and concerns. I understand how it may sound as though I might be trivializing the extremely painful reality many are facing today … This is not my intention … and I appreciate your giving me the opportunity to (hopefully) clarify further. For it is true that life is often unfair, and there is indeed much injustice, and abuse. I know this well.”
      I grew up in the circumstances you describe. What I share with others comes from my own experience of moving beyond victim consciousness.
      I have been sharing my own journey with others for more than 40 years, and have been able to personally
      witness many others who have chosen to move beyond victim consciousness, to do so. I have found that a better life begins with the question, “I am stuck in circumstances that make it impossible to better my self, is that true?” If I see myself as hopeless I am in victim consciousness. For it
      is what we tell ourselves about our circumstances that determines its power over us. This is my experience.

      My desire is to suggest that, regardless of what is happening around or even to us, we always have the right to choose our response. And how we respond determines so much about what happens next.
      Our thoughts, feelings, and responses are up to us – and believe it or not, knowing this alone can allow us to move beyond victim consciousness. For although we cannot control what happens in the world, or what others may do, we CAN direct our own perspective and reaction to any given situation. And that alone makes all the difference in what happens next. But, as I so often say, don’t take my word for it, experiment with it yourself.

      We can reframe the way we see our life and have a wholly different experience of it.
      How we feel about life is determined by what we decide our life experience means, depending on how we perceive it. If I see it as hopeless and brutal, I will feel hopeless and brutalized, and I will react out of that in ways that attract more of that! What would be different if I were to see my life circumstances as learning opportunities instead? How might that feel different? How might I respond from that perspective? The point is that we don’t have to blindly believe what we think! We
      can choose to see our lives in ways that actually leaves us feeling better. Feeling better prompts better responses, which leads to different outcomes.

      There is a universal truth that help us here: it says what we believe determines how we feel, and react – which in turn can play a huge part in how others respond to us in turn. If I believe there is danger at every turn, then I will be constantly vigilant looking for the next “bad thing” I will feel unsettled, distrustful, and paranoid… and I will react accordingly.
      I believe we are sovereign beings. We have, and will always have, the right to choose how we respond to our conditions, situations and encounters – and THAT simple fact makes all the difference in whether we see ourselves as victims, at the mercy of the world, or as individuals learning to cultivate peace and joy in our lives. I choose the latter. How about you?
      I hope this was helpful. Again thanks for this opportunity to share my thoughts out loud.
      Lynne Forrest

  2. You’re a living, breathing, teaching example that healing and wholeness are possible. Thank you for clarifying and for sharing what you’ve overcome. There’s a quote from Brennan Manning which I love (paraphrasing) ‘Only someone who’s been there dares whisper the name of the holy into our unspeakable distress.’-Grieving Forward. The message of hope and becoming empowered becomes tangible when shared through a fellow survivor. The many gifts in the challenge. Thank you.

  3. Nice expression of Light filled discriminating thinking. This Light of Illumination enables one to emerge from the imprisoning effect of the emotion we identify as “victim consciousness”. In my experience it does so by actually dissipating, transmuting or raising up this emotional (astral) energy through the Light of Mind.

  4. Wonderful post. I’m certain that it will be helpful to many people in clarifying the difference between having been victimized and choosing to maintain a victim consciousness. No, it’s not easy but it’s the only path to freedom and happiness.

  5. As a survivor of child abuse, it took me years to understand this concept of literally reversing my mindset about how to view the events that had occurred to me as a child. Now as an adult, I use this mind shift daily with people who may treat me poorly and situations that seem ‘unfair’. The inner peace I feel is amazing. Thank you.

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