Victimization

Tricky thing, victimization.
Do therapy with someone who’s been victimized but doesn’t know it, and you want them to see themselves as victimized.
You want them to see what isn’t their fault — that they didn’t cause all their problems and pain.  Your job is to help them off the hook on which they’re hanging.  Because self-blame doesn’t heal a damned thing.
But: work with people who already see themselves as victims, and what you want is to help them to stop.
Victimization starts with something external, something beyond our control, not our fault.  But if we’re not careful — or we don’t get the right help in processing this painful experience — we may internalize it.  We may see it as defining us, as part of our identity.
And then we carry the old pain around with us, like we’re in a trance.  My parents didn’t love me, so I must be unlovable.  I couldn’t stop bad things from happening at home, so I must be weak.  My husband abused me, so I can’t trust any man, ever.  Like that.
And that’s the trance of victimization: feeling stuck back in there/then, instead of realizing that you’re here/now.
How to break the trance?
Corrective emotional experience.  The frightened must find safety.  The voiceless must speak up and feel heard.  The abused must find love and caring.  The alienated must experience reconnection and trust.
Each such experience helps them wake up from the trance.
Collect enough such moments, and the waking becomes permanent.
And the label victim slides off into the past, where it belongs.

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5 responses to “Victimization

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