Yes, You DO Have a Choice in Victimhood

victimhoodVictimhood  is a choice. Becoming victimized isn’t necessarily one, but remaining stuck in victimhood is.

But in reading comments on an article by The Atlantic Monthly, it’s incredibly amazing to me–but also not–how the idea of personal power and that *remaining* feeling like a victim utterly ENRAGES some people. And articles like this, in my opinion, while trying to bring to light the depth of the issue also inadvertently reinforce the idea there’s nothing that can be done.

The thing is, not just women are victimized on the Internet. And as long as there are people who feel powerless, and as long as there is a demand for sites that allow content for victimizing people, they will remain. But it’s your choice, even if you were victimized by one of those sites, to remain feeling powerless and like a victim. The people who run sites that do allow that content want you to remain feeling like that.

I left a comment on The Atlantic Monthly’s Facebook page under this article saying that.  As is remaining in situations where you continue to be victimized. The rub is that someone in those situations may not understand this. Or they may not want to understand this. (I once spoke to a woman who said she wanted to learn how to be more at peace with being in a relationship where she was beaten daily. “That’s the only choice I have,” she said. “I have to accept that’s my situation and so I have to become peaceful with it.” And no, I am not making that up to make a point. And yes, that’s how she put it. I had no idea what to say, and I wonder about her sometimes; I sincerely hope she is safe and healthy now.)

The man replied, ironically, that what I said was a “f—ing disgusting comment”, that I was part of a bunch of “circle jerks” and should be “ashamed” of myself.

He went on to say–and was supported in his comments by another man and a few women–that I was an insult to women for saying that women (the populace the article was about) have a choice to remain feeling victimized. (The thing is, he didn’t even use the term “circle jerk” correctly in applying it to me, given I am not male.) Further down, he stated that people who held views like mine were a bunch of “trolls”. (Again rather ironic, no?)

Everyone has the choice to not feel like a victim choice. Everyone.

I made the choice not to reply and to let him have his opinion, worded as such or not, there by making my point (which of course would go right over his head, and the heads of his “supporters”.)

He doesn’t have to agree with me, of course, but what his reaction tells me is that he’s very possibly choosing to remain a victim to something in his life–current or past. Especially given the level of vitriol in his reply. One thing I have learned over my years working as a life coach is that people can get very, very scared by the concept of not remaining a victim to something. To the point where that fear triggers anger, perhaps even rage.

Yes, websites that victimize and bully people are deplorable.

I find them disgusting, too. But, as a woman, I refuse to let websites and the people who run them, even advocate for them as “freedom of speech” (I don’t think they are; using that as an excuse to be an abusive bully is cowardly) take any modicum of power from me. Because that just fuels their game.

It pains me at times when I see how many people are unable to grasp (or are unable, for whatever reason, to want to grasp) the concept of personal power and choice.

That carrying the weight of past bullying can be set down. When you have something in your life you’ve been carrying around for perhaps decades, it can feel as a part of you as your lungs and rib cage, or that it’s like a tree that’s grown around a fence post, and the only way the fence post can be removed is to damage the tree.

It’s not.

This same fellow I mentioned above, also said, “That’s like saying if you don’t like what you hear or read on Facebook to get off Facebook!!!!” (Extra exclamation points included.)

Well, yes, that’s a choice, certainly! Nobody’s forcing you to read things that offend you or to even stay on Facebook. I know people who have closed their Facebook accounts for that reason.

What this tells me, when someone gets this angry, is that it’s possible he’s carrying around the weight of some kind of past bullying. And now he’s locked in a belief that it’s not their choice to let it go. That it’s as much a part of him as his lungs and rib cage.

No, you cannot change your past. But you can change how you react to your past.

I was bullied when I was a child. It was miserable and went on for all three years of middle school,  finally stopping fully when I became a freshman.

But thanks to my parents, I learned how to not allow those kids (and they were just kids) to take away my confidence. It was a choice, they taught me (though not in those words) to let those kids demean me, and that really, the only person they were demeaning were themselves. They also taught me that bullies bully because they are unhappy and feel like they have no power of their own. And so they steal from other people.

And then, somehow, I found myself in a relationship where I was verbally abused and worn down to nothing of my former self. (To this day I am not clear on why I allowed this to happen.) It was very, very gradual. And then, one day, I realized with horror what I had allowed to happen to me. The choice was mine to let him keep my personal power.

I chose to no longer feel like a victim.

I was victimized, yes. And, in this case, I allowed myself to be victimized.But it is a choice to REMAIN feeling like a victim. And if you are in a situation where you are continually victimized or abused, you can choose to get out of that situation.

But the thing is, the worst bullies in our lives are often ourselves.

I chose to return to my upbringing of valuing myself and to reinstate my personal power. Someone can continue to try to insult and victimize you. But it’s as Eleanor Roosevelt so eloquently said: “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Nobody can make you feel like a victim without your consent.

If you’re reading this and you are feeling angered by this concept, pause for a moment and ask yourself why.

Why does it anger you so that you have a choice? Why do you want, perhaps, to project that anger on to me? No, really–what’s going on inside you, right now, behind all that anger? Is there a part of you that’s in pain from something? Is it what’s lashing out, much like an injured animal will before it understands you’re there to help it heal? If that’s not the reason, I still ask–why the anger?

Vehement anger like what the fellow directed at me is very often rooted in pain.

Like the bullies that anger him, he doesn’t understand, or he doesn’t want to understand, that letting go of that pain, isn’t about saying that what happened was right. It’s about allowing himself freedom from that pain.

Personal power often frightens those who want it the most.

They’ve never had it before, so they can’t have it now. That’s merely a belief. Sometimes, the introduction of that concept causes people to view it as their victimhood being taken away. As a negative. I’ve had clients get upset with me for exactly this. The sense of victimhood was such a part of their identity and how they functioned, they couldn’t see how holding onto it was a great part of why they were so unhappy.

The gate through which you can step may have a padlock on it, but that padlock has always been unlocked. And if it is locked, you’ve always had the key.

It’s my hope to encourage you into realizing that this is something you can have. Could I have learned this without my parents raising me to believe this concept? Yes, I believe I could have. But I may not have accepted the concept as something I could actualize. Bullies want to keep you victimized so they feel stronger.

You may not have a choice in being victimized (by a burglary, a mugging, a horrible event). But, again, you do have a choice in remaining a victim to that event. And to the person who perpetrated the event. Meaning: If you remain feeling like a victim, you are giving away your personal freedom. You’re giving away your power and sense of self to that person–someone who is essentially a ruthless vampire. I’m sure you don’t want that.

Yes, it can take time to let go of the hurt, the fear, the PTSD something might cause. But the more compassion you allow yourself for the time it takes to actively heal, the less you give that person and event your power. Even if it might (for now) feel like the opposite is happening.

So what choice do you want to make, right now–right in this moment?

Questions? Comments? Email me at heather (at) smallchangelife (dot) org or drop by my Facebook page and leave me a message, leave a comment below or feel free to start up a conversation in the discussion forum.

Victimhood. A Victimhood. B Victimhood. Victimhood. 


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