Victims of horrible perpetrators deserve our strongest empathetic experience to drive changes. This human response is so easily triggered, however, that it is used to manipulate and perpetuate victimhood at the expense of the victims themselves.
How do you filter your world?
There are many ways to filter and create meaning in a complex world full of layers of relationships. One filter is to look at the world through the eyes of victims and perpetrators. Yes, there are real victims who have suffered the most unimaginable pain and death at the hands of real perpetrators. There are evil people who have lost their humanity and violate even the most innocent. Having mental preparation, boundaries, and skills to meet or avoid these psychopathic individuals and groups can help.
What is the impact of labeling ourselves and others as “victims”?
Even when the label is somewhat valid, it implies reduced agency. (See “Agency — The Power of Personal Ownership.”) Our human brains grab onto victimhood as a righteous position. When we integrate the label of “victim,” it is more challenging to take responsibility for ourselves. It is more challenging to create environments where we can expand our choices. It is more challenging to get excited about the future and feel optimistic and hopeful. The victim mindset filters for and even creates a world of injustice, filled with victims and perpetrators.
We lose agency.
Victimhood becomes our identity and defines our beliefs and our behaviors. We attract people who are using a similar model, and they become our community. Soon, all hope depends on others organizing our environment so that we are safe.