Some people can’t stand to refer to themselves as a “victim” of narcissistic abuse. They prefer the word “target." I don’t see the difference. Tomato, tamato, potato, patato.
“Victim” seems to be a shameful, dirty word for some. I don’t share that shame. I believe we should give the word “victim” the respect it deserves.
In light of my recent blog post on “Narcissistic Abuse and Isolation,” and the comments that followed, I thought the following article might be helpful for some readers. I printed it out in 2008. There is no author. I found it on a link from a blog.
Dr. Frank Ochberg, Harvard trained MD and trauma expert says our culture blames, isolates, and condemns someone for being a victim.
Victim, survivor, victimology, victim abuse… why are victims being told to deny their reality? Sometimes being sad is normal. It doesn’t mean you stay there, but don’t feel guilty for it.
Why everyone can’t just “move on” and “choose a happy future.”
The concept that a victim can always consciously choose how to proceed, is flawed. Abuse is trauma and the ability to take steps forward is impaired. Sometimes, help is needed.
The phrase, “move on with your life” is common. Sometimes said to those who have lost a custody battle, lost a home, or savings, a family or job this phrase can be another betrayal. Just when a victim needs support, they are asked to go it alone.
The infrastructure of a life is often destroyed leaving the victim stunned, hypervigilant, indigent, betrayed and perplexed as to why they are expected to “choose” not to be a victim. Give them a time machine and this can be done. Give them revictimization and it cannot.
It’s time to give that word back its status and in doing so, respect the abused. Respect comes in the form of providing help with a compassionate approach to those stripped of dignity through abuse in courts of law, or by their partners, (I added) abuse by their family members.
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 acts, circumstance, agency, or condition; a person who is tricked, swindled, or taken advantage of.
The victim of a narcissist is traumatized. There are biochemical changes in the body and structural changes in the brain. Thought patterns change, brain cells dies, there is chest pain, muscle pain, feelings are intense and emotions chaotic.
Why are victims revictimized?
Because it is politically correct to say, “I’m not a victim, I’m a survivor.”
Not all victims are the same.
Some have more resiliency than others. Some are without 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 healing NOW. These people are revictimizing because “choice” is NOT always an option.
We must reclaim the word “victim” and renew our commitment to those who are victims. We should examine the role of victim impact statements 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 that 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’re talking about.
As a victim of any kind of abuse you deserve:
3. Freedom from therapeutic abuse
4. A support team to open doors to resources
5. A friend, therapist or counsellor who can teach you the skills to rebuild your life
Depending 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 wanted to, you can be happy and healthy and fully functional as soon as you choose to be. A starting point for recovery is 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, a survivor or a Martian. No one should deny you victim status. It is what is. A victim is not a sloth like 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-traumatizing begins with validation. It then moves to retraining explanatory style. Depending on the depth and time of 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. But not over and over to everyone who will listen. Validation is critical.