Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | March 5, 2011

Are you really a victim?

My first husband was abusive. Not wanting to break my vows or commit the sin of divorce, I stayed longer than I should have. Finally, not knowing what else to do, I consulted a pastor, hoping to hear that I had reasonable grounds for divorce and that I would be forgiven.

After listening to my story the pastor quietly asked what my part was. My part???!! Are you kidding me???!! I am the victim!! As he patiently waited in silence it finally dawned on me. I had a part. I chose this man. I married this man. I stayed in the marriage. Something inside of me drew me to an abusive man. I had a part.

I never forgot that eye-opening epiphany. Identifying myself as a victim kept me powerless and immobile. I was blameless, faultless, and just plain unfortunate. He was the problem. Coming to the understanding that I had a part actually freed me to move forward. I divorced my husband and began to finally take a good look at myself.

According to YourDictionary.com , one of the definitions of victim is – One who is harmed by or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition. The key words in that definition are “made to suffer”. The person who is robbed at gunpoint is a victim. Sadly, often a child or an elderly person is a victim due to their vulnerability. The woman who is hit by a drunk driver is a victim. They are “made to suffer” through no responsibility of their own.

But I was not without responsibility for the situation I was in. I was absolutely responsible for the choice I made and for the choices I would now make to either continue blaming him and taking no responsibility for me, or to get honest about me and reclaim a life without abuse. I was only a victim as long as I saw myself as a victim. More important, I was only stuck in that nightmare as long as I believed that I was a victim.

I share this personal story with you because I have found myself returning to my “victim” status more than once in the years after my divorce. I know how easy it is to fall back into the fallacy. Fortunately I eventually remember what that wise pastor taught me and turn my attention back to myself. I look at me and ask myself “what is my part?”. And I share this story because I see others who are in pain and suffering because they believe there is nothing they can do, and I want to offer them an alternative that they might not be able to see, just as the pastor did for me.

So I ask you today, “are you really a victim?”. Are you blameless and without responsibility for the situation you are in? Or is your victimhood a faulty perception that will keep you suffering while hopelessly continuing to look outside of yourself for the answers to why you are where you are.

If you truly are a victim, it is my hope and prayer that you will find a way to rise above what has happened to you. But if you are not sure, and something you read here resonates with you as the pastor’s words resonated with me, I encourage you to ask yourself, “what is my part?”. You may find that the only thing victimizing you is you. The good news is that you are one of the things in your life that you absolutely can change.

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Responses

  1. Amen! As hard as it is, sometimes, to recognize that we DO actually have a part in our own misery and suffering – recognizing this reality is the first step to becoming empower and able to move forward or change directions. Thank you for your inspirational words – again. 🙂

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  2. You are most welcome Susan :).

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  3. Excellent points on all fronts. Taking responsibility for our lives is extremely liberating.

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  4. Finally, a real woman gets it! Do you think that playing a victim serves a narcissists need to be the center of attention? I’ve noticed this to be true. The women, like you, inevitably accept partial responsibility. As for others I’m so sick of the pity party.

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  5. I hadn’t really thought about people playing a victim for attention. That could certainly be the case for some. More often than not, an abused woman doesn’t tell during the abuse, so no attention there. If she doesn’t come to see her part, why she chose an abuser and allowed abuse, and then work on healing herself, I guess she would keep that identity and present as you have noticed. Sadly, she would also be likely to find herself in another abusive situation.
    Thank you for sharing a thought provoking viewpoint 🙂 .

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