Be a victim so you can embrace all the parts of yourself. Admit you are a victim so you can become a survivor. Play the victim card so you can get rid of it.

So there you are at the Crazy Eights table and you’ve got a dreaded eight card in your hand. Remember that Lord of the Rings story? Ever heard of kryptonite? Some things are just too toxic to hold on to. If you’ve been dealt a victim card, you have two choices… hold onto it because everyone tells you not to be a victim or play the damn victim card so you can get rid of it and enjoy the rest of your life.

This acknowledges the trauma but still focuses on positives.

That was an important point…in case you missed it. Acknowledge the trauma. 

Victim is not a dirty word. Abuser is.

So why the H double hockey sticks would people tell you not to play the victim card?

Because, duh… being a victim sucks, right?!

Survivors are strong. Victims are weak. Survivors take responsibility. Victims blame others. Survivors have value. Victims should be pitied.

Before you buy into that there are three things you need to know…

Survivors and victims are the same people. Think caterpillar and butterfly

Surthriver is a cool word but here’s the problem with it... someone who has been abused cannot envision themselves on the other side of being a victim.

It’s not a reality they see for themselves when they are bombarded with negativity about victims. They KNOW they are a victim, they know they SHOULDN’T be, but they cannot identify as a survivor…YET.

They feel like they don’t have a choice but to be what you are telling them not to be.

The caterpillar doesn’t know she’s destined to be a butterfly and if she isn’t allowed to do what caterpillars do, she never will be. Which brings me to this…

Victims have a victim mentality

Let’s address the elephant in the room. The fact is that a victim is going to think like a victim for a while. Abuse and trauma rewire your brain patterns.

Most victims have been groomed to have a low vision of themselves. Even if the abuse was a random attack and not an ongoing thing, being violated has an uncanny way of bringing out negative thought patterns about ourselves.

And then we are told NOT to have that mentality. Thanks. That’s really helpful.

Victim mentality is defined as someone who lives in a poor me state and is unable to take responsibility for themselves.

Because the word victim is attached to that, I never wanted to identify myself as a victim or have others think of me that way. I wanted to ignore everything about being a victim and skip straight to surthrivor mode.

Do victims make decisions that look ridiculous on the surface? Of course. Do victims try to numb the pain in unhealthy ways? Sometimes. Do victims act out of fear instead of logic? Maybe. Does telling someone not to be a victim change that? Nope

When we say victims are weak, we only reinforce that belief to the victim. We don’t stop them being a victim.

Victims are also resilient, caring, determined, problem solvers. Why doesn’t victim mentality mean those things? Why can’t we address the unavoidable effects of abuse on a human brain without shaming the victim? 

Unacknowledged victims don't heal

I once read a children’s book about a little dragon who made friends with a boy. The parents believed there were no such thing as dragons. The dragon got bigger each time someone refused to see him. Eventually he was so big he was wearing the house on his back like a snail and the adults had to admit he existed. In that moment, he shrank back to his original kitten size. He just needed to be acknowledged and recognized and accepted.

For most of my life I felt weak because I couldn’t ‘heal’. It turns out I can heal quite nicely. What I couldn’t do was acknowledge I was a victim.

But it takes a lot of energy to constantly tell yourself, “it wasn’t that big a deal”, “other people have survived worse”, and “it was a long time ago”, so eventually I broke. 

I played the victim card and went to a counsellor. 

The first time I spoke with the counsellor, I was terrified. I was sure she would tell me I didn’t ‘qualify’ as a victim and I was just ‘acting’ like one because I was damaged.

Instead, she looked at me without any judgement and said, “These things that have happened to you, are not ok.”

I was stunned; like, alternate reality shocked. “Really? You’re not going to tell me to stop being a victim?”

Nope…for the first time in my life, someone acknowledged me as a victim and didn’t tell me I shouldn’t be. I knew I had been abused but I had NEVER let myself be a victim. There is a difference.

When I stopped putting my energy into beating myself up because I ‘should’ be over it by now and allowed myself to be exactly what I was, I had a huge amount of energy to put into healing. Like, staggeringly massive amounts.

I turned my energy sucking, easily broken open scabs, into scars. The wounds will always be there, I will see the scar and remember, others can see it and know it is there, but as a scar, it does not hinder my ability to move and interact with the world.

How did I go from scabs to scars? By letting myself be a victim. I played my victim card and someone said, “It’s ok to not be ok.”

Do you have a victim card you need to play?

I won’t lie… it’s actually not a simple, easy thing to do.

It might feel like it makes things worse for a while. It might make other people stop playing the game with you. It might make you wish you’d just held onto to the bloody thing and taken your chances. You will face things you’ve been able to avoid in the past and it will hurt.

The thing is… all that shit can happen if you hold onto it as well. The difference is it will never end. Playing the card is your first step to freedom. Counselling is a cocoon of safety while you transform from caterpillar to butterfly. When you’re ready, you’ll do the really hard of work of breaking out of that cocoon and flying away.

My Kickass Life Counselling email waitlist has a zero obligation. I’ll just let you know when the doors are open and you decide when or if you want to walk in. In the meantime, I’ll also send you some helpful shit to look over 🙂