Victim, Survivor & How The Truth Can Set Us Free

by Dr Silvia Hartmann

Being forced to accept the mantle of "the victim" which becomes the "everlasting survivor" even when a person doesn't feel like a victim before one is allowed to heal is extremely counterproductive and can block healing, change and evolution from  happening at all - as is the ongoing exhortation that a person must somehow accept that "It's not your fault!" when in fact they feel with every fibre of their being that is IS THEIR fault.

In this article, Dr Hartmann makes the case for simply working with what a person really feels - the intrapersonal truth - rather than to add insult to injury and telling a person what they should be feeling, or what they're feeling is wrong and it's their fault that they're not healing.

Victim, Survivor

& How The Truth Can Set Us Free

by Dr S Hartmann

The Idea Of Victimhood & Being A Victim - Victims -> Participants - The Everlasting Survivor? - "It Wasn't Your Fault!" - A Path To Absolution


The Idea Of Victimhood & Being A Victim

I have always had a huge problem with the idea of victimhood, of being a victim.

Even though I "was a victim of child abuse" *I* intrapersonally NEVER felt like a victim.

The necessity to don the mantle of the victim as a pre-requisite to enter therapy and "receive healing" as in, "My name is Steve, and I'm an alcoholic!" precluded me from ever entering into therapy.

I thought for a long time that it was just me, that there was "something wrong with me" that I didn't feel like a victim, didn't want to feel like a victim, didn't want to play the "It wasn't your fault, you were just some hapless f**kbag for just anyone to do with whatever they wanted because you were too young, too stupid, and too weak to defend yourself from those who are bigger, smarter and more powerful than your pathetic helpless self" game.

Not at all.

However, as time went by and I got to talk to others who had similar experiences, turns out that nobody really wants to be a victim, never mind remain a victim forever, just because some idiot/s in the past did stuff that caused us to freak out.

There are some strange and worrisome presuppositions, subtexts, in general counselling and therapy as it stands today.

This "you can't heal unless you accept that you're a victim, that it wasn't your fault, that you did nothing wrong" thing is one of those.

It is, in fact, a form of brainwashing.

You HAVE to accept that whole victim thing - IF you WANT to heal, that is.

If you don't, well, it's your choice ... suffer forever then ...

Next, we have to thoroughly hate the abusers/perpetrators, from hereon in referred to in the US fashion as "the perps" (which is a phonological ambiguity to "the pervs" to be sure!).

Then, we have to forgive them.

And ONLY THEN are we allowed to heal.

But actually, we still remain victims forever ...

What a lot of b*****t!

Let's draw a line under all of that, right now.

_______________LINE ...____________________________________


Victim -> Participant

Let's start afresh, at the beginning, at the very heart of the problem.

The first thing we can do is to re-name "the victim" to "the participant".

Now, I can hear the squawks ringing around the world.


Did I say, "WILLING participant"?


I said, "participant".

Which denotes someone who has participated in something. Which means that they took part in something, and whether it was willing or otherwise, has not yet been established.

It just means they were there, and played a part in the unfoldments of the situation.

You literally cannot have a torture scene with a torturer and there is no-one being tortured.

Both are participants in the scene.

That is the truth of it, one way or the other.

Both are present.

That's where we start.

  • Now, and regardless of whether we are counselling the torturer, or the tortured, we can begin to EXPLORE THEIR INTRAPERSONAL EXPERIENCES.

We can absolutely connect with and take down THEIR UNIQUE POINT OF VIEW of the situation in which both were participants.

We can unfold step by step WHAT REALLY HAPPENED *****INTRAPERSONALLY***** - honestly, correctly, logically.

And we can work with THAT intrapersonal reality to bring about changes.

It is a simple fact of life that when we work with what there really is, as opposed to working with what we want there to be, hope there should be, expect that there must be, or hallucinate that there ought to be, we end up with real changes, instead of a total mess.

ALL the participants - and this now includes the counsellor as well! - get to MOVE ON and evolve.

That's worth having.

It's simple.

It's clean.

It's honest.

It is a HUGE relief for all concerned as they can stop trying to squash themselves into some arbitrary role like trying to get into a suit of armour made from spiky metal that is ten sizes too small, and instead, unfold and learn what REALLY HAPPENED THERE, who we really are, each one of the participants, when all is said and done.

When we make this shift, we might even find out how to prevent similar situations from happening in future, and the endless seeming feedback loop between new generations of victims and perps can finally be broken.

We might learn something about how to treat ourselves and others differently, how to treat ourselves right.

And that would be ... progress, at least in my books.


The Everlasting Survivor?

As long as a person continues to define themselves and all they are as a "... SURVIVOR" we can actually simply say, that this person has NOT finished with these events, is NOT clear of them, has NOT reached an evolution and is still "living there".

It is the moment when the survivor of a plane crash ceases to call themselves a plane crash victim, or a plane crash survivor, in words, in their thoughts, how they feel in their bodies, and start calling themselves just a man or a woman instead, perhaps a Republican or an artist, a mother or a CEO, that we know the person is finally healed and back in the now with us, rather than still trapped by the events of the  past.

I personally do not encourage anyone to call themselves a survivor. There may be merit in dealing with the fact that something was indeed, survived, but that should be clearly over with as soon as possible and should never become a life choice, an identity forming role or anything of that nature.

A person who is still in that survivor mode is in limbo and needs to evolve out of that limbo, in their own time.

To tell someone that "they will be a survivor forever" is nothing but handing down a cruel sentence of a future devoid of healing, of change, of learning, and of evolution.

That is the same as telling someone that they will be a victim forever, or even a perpetrator forever - it denies the forward movement of evolution for that one person that is possible, that is attainable and most of all, SHOULD BE SOUGHT WITH ALL SPEED so that a person can become a person once more, and make a life that is worth something, to them, and to society at large.


"It wasn't your fault!"

Further from the whole victim/survivor confusion, one of the worst and most harmful brainwashing entrainments in modern psychology is the whole dea of trying to get the client to accept somehow that, "It wasn't your fault!"

This is so unfair, so deeply disturbing to have a person in emotional pain after what they have been through, and then the person who is supposed to help them, is trying to convince them that what they are feeling is WRONG, and they shouldn't be feeling it, and that until and unless they realise just how wrong their ideas and feelings are, no healing will be rationed out.

It's truly appalling.

If someone feels, "It is my fault that this terrible thing happened ...." then WHY can't we just work with what a person feels instead of trying to talk them out of it and make them somehow (and on top of everything else) think they were wrong to feel whatever it is they're feeling in the first place?

Insult to injury!

Also, we are now in a position where a person who feels strongly that it WAS their fault gets into a stalemate with those who try to treat them. There is no forward movement. Everything STOPS. And that is possibly the greatest catastrophe of the "It wasn't your fault!" entrainment.

I saw this at work the other day with an elderly gentleman who bought his daughter an airplane ticket to go on a holiday as a special birthday gift - and unfortunately for all concerned, the airplane crashed and there were no survivors.

This was 20 years ago and people are STILL trying to tell the guy that it wasn't his fault.

And he is STILL in pain - in fact, in the same pain he has been in all along.

For Heaven's sake!

Just let him say that he feels and therefore knows in every fibre of his being that it is his fault, and finally take his word for it, ACCEPT HIS INTRAPERSONAL REALITY AS WHAT THERE REALLY IS - and take it from there.


A Path To Absolution

From there we can finally plot a path to absolution.

In fact, that is the ONLY place we can start if we want to evolve the problem, or help the gentleman.

Now it is true that in the past, psychologists and counsellors didn't have any methods to change a person's feelings directly.

That is no longer the case today, and we can work directly with the feelings without the labels of guilt and shame, without having to hide away from the intrapersonal truth, whatever it may be.

In that way, there is a chance that finally, the victims will be heard and can find a way to heal; the perpetrators may be healed and cease to pose a threat to others in the future, and the helper can come away with the knowledge that they have done something very brave and so unusual, which is to face another person's intrapersonal reality without feeling the need to distort it or have it be something that it never was, and assist in their unique personal path and evolution instead.

Dr Silvia Hartmann
Author, Events Psychology

The Idea Of Victimhood & Being A Victim - Victims -> Participants - The Everlasting Survivor? - "It Wasn't Your Fault!" - A Path To Absolution
Victim, Survivor & How The Truth Can Set Us Free (c) Hartmann 2009. All Rights Reserved.



  by Dr Silvia Hartmann   

© Project EmoTrance 2008-2012. All Rights Reserved.