Reality and Revictimization…
Victim, survivor, victimology, victim abuse… why are victims being told to deny their reality?
You have been methodically and diabolically abused and suddenly you hear “don’t be a victim, choose to be a survivor.” The concept that a victim can always consciously choose how to proceed, is wrong.
The phrase, “move on with your life” is common. In a commanding, offhand and arrogant tone, those who have fought and lost a custody battle, their home, car and savings, family, job and may be suffering physically (adrenal fatigue, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, lupus, crohn’s disease, etc. are common) are stunned to be told, “well, better move on with your life.”
The entire infrastructure of a life is often destroyed leaving the victim, stunned, numb, hypervigilant, indigent, betrayed and perplexed as to why they are expected to “choose” to not be a victim. Give them a time machine and this can be done. Give them revictimization abuse and it cannot. They are victims.
It’s time to give that word back its status and in doing so, give respect to the abused. Respect comes in the form of providing help. An empowering, compassionate approach to those who have been stripped of dignity through repeated abuse in courts of law, or by their partners, begins with recognizing and defining the situation of the victim.
What is the definition of a “victim”?
According to the dictionary a victim is: One who is harmed by, or made to suffer from an act, circumstance, agency, or condition; a person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of.
The victim of a narcissist or abuser is traumatized. There are biochemical changes in the body and structural changes in the brain. Thought patterns change, memories are lost, immune system strongly affected, brain cells die, there is chest pain, muscle pain, feelings are intense and emotions chaotic. Victimization is never deserved.
Why are victims revictimized?
So why does someone brutalized, abused, and traumatized have to be afraid of the word “victim” ? Because it’s politically correct to say, “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.” Much the same way, people think the capitalist economy gives everyone an equal chance to become wealthy (which of course it does not – if everyone started with the same funding, self esteem, contacts, educational background, health, then that would be true) but when the playing field is not level some have an advantage.
Not everyone who is the victim of emotional, verbal, and narcissistic abuse are the same. Some have more resiliency than others. Some are numb, some are without any resources or support. Many have physiological changes that need to be addressed. And when those who need help come looking for it, instead of being welcomed, they find “helpers” that tell them they are responsible for their healing and they better choose it now or they will always be a victim and never a survivor. These people are revictimizing those they want to help because “choice” is NOT always an option.
Dr. Frank Ochberg, Harvard trained MD and trauma expert, says our culture now disparages, blames, isolates, and condemns someone for being a victim.
We must reclaim the word “victim” and renew our commitment to those who are victims. We should examine the role of a victim impact statement and victim advocate for those who are traumatized emotionally as well as from a criminal act.
Are you being victimized again by someone who says, “if you won’t stop being a victim. I won’t help you”? Maybe your attorney, therapist. siblings, or friends are claiming you can just choose to stop being a victim. Maybe they think you can start a company without money, and buy a house with bad credit. Maybe they don’t know what they are talking about.
As a victim of any kind of abuse you deserve:
3. Freedom from therapeutic verbal abuse
4. A support team to open doors to resources
5. A friend, therapist or counselor who can teach you the skills to rebuild your life.
Depending on who you are, this may take a long time or not. Variables include amount and length of abuse, health, supportive family or not, finances, genetic explanatory style (optimism or pessimism), coping skills you may already have and many others. As a victim, you have the right to say, “STOP” to those who blame the victim. An entire self help industry has arisen that believes if you just really really wanted to, you can be happy and healthy and fully functional as soon as you choose to be. A starting point for recovery are post traumatic stress sites. There you will find trained and compassionate support people with articles that explain trauma healing methods.
The Scientific Basis of Healing, Happiness and Recovery
It doesn’t matter if you call yourself a victim, survivor or Martian. No one should deny you victim status. It is what is. A victim is not a slothlike creature, nor stupid. Nor is a victim responsible for what happened to her and we must stop worrying about language and start helping. A victim is a person with a life in chaos. What matters is that you get the help you need and the compassionate trained person to give you the skills.
The good news is that happiness is trainable, resiliency comes back and psychologists are moving from the Freudian model which has dominated psychology for too long and was wrong to boot, to a model that moves from pathology as the dominant scheme. The process of de-traumatization begins with validation. It then moves to retraining explanatory style. Depending on the depth and time of the abuse, it may take a long or short time to process to empowerment and control. IT IS NOT NECESSARY to analyze every event. It IS necessary to be heard and listened to and to tell your story. Validation is critical.