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Food for thought and practical tips for your personal journey.

When the Role of Victim Keeps You Stuck in a Relationship

Man and woman sitting on sidewalk

When you feel hurt in a relationship it may be easy to feel like a victim. When your partner, friend, or family member says something that you find hurtful, you may want to shift your hurt feelings into blaming them for your feelings. But watch out. This can be a trap!

The fact is when you identify yourself as a victim, the other person will likely play the role of your perpetrator. Now the two of you are stuck playing the never-ending, game of victim/perpetrator. In this game, while you may want to perceive the perpetrator as “the one who done me wrong,” you may use your role of victim to punish your perpetrator in passive aggressive ways. You may sulk, blame, tell them they are horrible, and even cut off the relationship to hurt them back. At least for a while your “perpetrator” may comply with your wishes or apologize for the hurt they caused. But, as sure as the sun rises, there will be another situation that triggers the dynamics between the two of you, which starts the whole cycle over again.

To free yourself from this cycle of blaming your “perpetrator” requires that you take personal responsibility for your role in the victim/perpetrator game. Honestly examine the thoughts, emotions and behaviors you play out that keep the cycle going. This level of self-examination helps you stop identifying yourself as a victim, so you can take back your power and break the victim/perpetrator cycle.

This means owning your own hurt feelings and looking deeper to see if you are simply being triggered by a past trauma from your childhood, which made you vulnerable to feeling abused. Or if others are calling you a perpetrator, maybe you are continuing a pattern you learned early in life.

As adults we can step up our boundaries and no longer allow others to continue blaming or saying hurtful things to us. We can take responsibility for our own feelings and not give our power to the other person by saying things like, “you are making me feel….” or “you make me want to …” or “you made me do it.” Remember as an adult no one is powerful enough to make you feel or do anything you don’t agree to experience.

If you have taken responsibility for your thoughts, actions and behaviors and the other person is still not willing to stop their abusive behavior, you may need to leave the relationship. If you do decide to leave, do it for yourself and not because you want to punish the other person. Please note: If you are in an abusive relationship and you fear for your safety, trust your instincts and reach out for help! Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 today to get immediate assistance.

Elaine Rozelle