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Thompson: Help students recover rather than perpetuating victimhood

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Victimhood is pervasive in today’s culture, particularly on the internet. Twitter is filled with people’s stories, which can be found by searching #victim or #victimhood. While it’s great that the internet is a place for people to connect with others who have gone through similar experiences, it’s also perpetuating victim identities.


According to Psychology Today, “A person with a victim identity is someone who has identified with whatever crises, traumas, illnesses or other difficulties (that) have occurred in their lives, particularly those that began very early in life.”

Many college students have experienced traumatic events that could lead them to identify as a victim. According to the National Center for PTSD, “About six of every 10 men (or 60%) and five of every 10 women (or 50%) experience at least one trauma in their lives.”

A victim identity manifests as a survival technique, usually learned as a reaction to past traumatic events. Sometimes victims assume that because bad things have happened in the past, they will continue to happen in the future, so they don’t have any hope that things can change. 

Life will inevitably throw unpreventable pains at you, but thinking that someone, even yourself, can’t overcome anything is disrespectful.”

Acknowledging a history of trauma and victimhood is an important part of disengaging from that identity, but this identity is not all there is to someone. In fact, one of the toughest parts about living with a victim mentality is potentially attracting abusers because abusers look for people they can take advantage of.

There’s a fine line between acknowledging victimhood and making it an identity.

According to psychologist David J. Ley, we should be supporting a person’s healing process rather than perpetuating their victimization. In an article written for Psychology Today, he said, “To continue with the way we are idealizing and rewarding victimhood creates more and more incentive for people to desire to be seen as victims. We must instead encourage people in a way that supports their ability to move forward in their lives without needing emotional bodyguards to protect them from the unpreventable pains of life.”

Perpetuating someone’s identity with victimhood makes it harder to move past the trauma, as shame is often attached to being a victim. As tough as it is, rewarding victimhood is not going to help anyone develop their resiliency. The best we can do is create space for people to move through those feelings and encourage them to break the cycle and choose differently.

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💫 Are you a VICTIM or a VICTOR of your circumstances?💫 ⠀ ⠀ Playing the victim is a conditioned mechanism that we carry from childhood. ⠀ ⠀ As children, we had little control over our circumstances because our parents or caretakers would make most(if not all)of the decisions for us.⠀ ⠀ This made us feel small, ineffective, and powerless.⠀ ⠀ Most adults don’t recognize that they have more power than they had as children. As a result, they project their early childhood experiences into their present-day situations.⠀ ⠀ The only way to break free from this conditioning is to become CONSCIOUSLY AWARE of our victimization and reclaim our personal power. ⠀ ⠀ You are no longer a passive participant of life..⠀ ⠀ You are no longer helpless. ⠀ ⠀ You have more power than you think.⠀ ⠀ Stop operating from victimization.⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Start operating from empowerment. ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Freedom is taking full responsibility for your feelings, thoughts, and actions.⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Are you ready to untangle yourself from the web of childhood conditioning? I have *very limited* spots available for my ⠀ 1-on-1 mentorship program, which includes live monthly calls & access to my digital workbook, Reclaim Your Inner Child. Coming Spring 2020🌸 ⠀⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀⠀ Shoot me a DM to snag a spot on the waitlist💟⠀ ⠀ Now tell me, are you a VICTIM or VICTOR? #selfseekers

A post shared by Sattva🌹Spiritual Mentor (@seekingwithsattva) on

We shouldn’t blame victims for having a victim mentality, but we also shouldn’t encourage people to identify with it. This isn’t about placing the blame on someone — it’s about accepting that when bad things happen, we have the ability to let them have power over us or not.


There are healthy ways to cope with trauma, and you should feel all your feelings along that journey. But overcoming a victim mentality can only be achieved with a dedication to resiliency. Life will inevitably throw unpreventable pains at you, but thinking that someone, even yourself, can’t overcome anything is disrespectful.

We have to recognize that everyone has an inherent strength in them, and we should treat them accordingly. Otherwise, we are just treating victims as though their victimization is the most important thing about them.

Madison Thompson can be reached at or on Twitter @heyymadison.

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