I see that phrase at least three times during an average session online.
I Am Not a Victim
Various free online dictionaries define the word victim as an unfortunate person who suffers from some adverse circumstance: a person who has suffered the effects of violence or illness or bad luck: an accident victim She’s just a victim of circumstances beyond her control.
Vic”tim, n. Etym: [L. victima: cf. F. victime.]
1. A living being sacrificed to some deity, or in the performance of a religious rite; a creature immolated, or made an offering of. Led like a victim, to my death I’ll go. Dryden.
2. A person or thing destroyed or sacrificed in the pursuit of an object, or in gratification of a passion; as, a victim to jealousy, lust, or ambition.
3. A person or living creature destroyed by, or suffering grievous injury from, another, from fortune or from accident; as, the victim of a defaulter; the victim of a railroad accident.
Someone who is not a victim lives in a world in which he or she will not be or is yet to be sacrificed to a theology or dogma, victimized by jealousy and ambition or suffer a grievous injury from another.
Being “not” a victim is a great thing.
It means all of your limbs are intact and you have full mobility.
It means as a child you were loved, accepted, and well nourished.
You have never been raped.
You have never been brutally beaten for no clear reason.
You were not locked in a room with a puppy and forced to watch it die of starvation.
You were not starved by parents who don’t care if you live or die.
You are not suffering from a psychiatric condition that impairs critical functions of your brain while people blame you for the rotten choices you wouldn’t make if you had treatment.
You are not strapped to the altar of sacrifice to the dogma of free market capitalism.
That’s a great thing.
My problem is not with your status as “not a victim”.
It’s more the tone of voice I think I hear; the implication that somehow people whose history meets the definition of the word “victim” are to blame for what happened.
Perhaps the degraded status of the word is related to its misappropriation by people who aren’t really victims.
Perhaps the negative value of the word “victim” is part of the overall defamation of the language of compassion: “Bleeding hearts” on the hunt for ‘loser victims” who blame everyone else for their problems.
The word loser is not in any definition of the word “victim” that I’ve managed to find.
As someone on the receiving end of economic policies that are designed to destroy my life, I have nothing to gain from silence.
My advocacy for social justice is very selfish indeed.
Here’s a pop quiz:
You are nine months old and your Mother has an un-diagnosed case of postpartum psychosis.
Everyone else in the family knows that something is wrong with her but they won’t admit they see it.
She burns you with a hot iron on your back three times before you are two years old.
The episodes are unpredictable and happen night or day.
You go to doctors; they find nothing wrong, one sends you to a psychiatrist who sends you to a CBT therapist but you don’t have a behavioral problem.
You don’t know why you have the pain, but your functioning is so compromised you can’t work.
Your life is now one of poorly managed pain. The psychotherapy that may help you to resolve this problem is not an option.
You are trying to get well in a system that won’t give you what you need and there are no alternatives.
And instead of accepting responsibility for their failures your care providers accuse you of malingering.
What are you?
You are three years old.
You have an uncle who comes to visit twice a year and stays for a week each time. At night he sneaks into your room and fondles you, he sometimes makes you do things to him. He says if you tell on him no one will believe you and you will go to jail because what you’re doing to him is a crime.
You put it all out of your mind but years later, you find that you go numb during sex.
Not only do you go numb but also you sometimes “switch” and become someone else, someone who violently shoves your partner away.
You feel like a failure, and the person you love is about to walk out on you.
What word best describes your status as a result of the rapes in your childhood and their impact on your life.
If you were raped as a child, you are burdened by a cruel violation of your body and trust. You were raped physically, psychologically and emotionally.
I pray that no one who reads this blog is ever forced to suffer the cruelty of violent ignorance.
But if you are ever assaulted by people who hate you because they’ve been told to hate you by violent demagogues the only way you can recover is by knowing that you are the victim.
Recognizing when you are a victim is the first step toward healing.
Rob Goldstein 2015-2018