It’s time to reclaim the word “victim.” It’s time to reclaim it because we are told it’s something we shouldn’t be. Victims make people nervous, as if we had leprosy or see-through leggings. People don’t like victims, and they are quick to point that out to anyone who suggests they might be one. Victims are weak. They are at fault. They have a certain mentality that is bad and wrong.
A victim is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event. Being a victim is a statement of fact, not a worldview to be criticized. Why would saying “this happened to me” be cause for others to shame, belittle, or deny?
Being an actual victim is different from a victim mentality. Yet, even though they are not the same, let’s take a moment here to address why people who have a victim mentality are so despised. A victim mentality is when one’s perspective has become skewed and feels powerless. But here’s the thing. If someone feels powerless for any reason, wouldn’t a healthy person wish to empower and encourage them? I believe that many who suffer from a victim mentality are suffering from the effects of emotional abuse. They can’t “just snap out of it.” Victim shaming blocks their ability to heal.
In both of these cases, why would anyone offer anything less than an empathetic response? Feelings of inferiority or worthlessness are human. They are not just dealt to the weak. Victim shaming is so pervasive in our culture. Those who have strong negative reactions to victims are either aggressively trying to conceal their own pain, have personality disorders, or sometimes both.
Let’s call it out when we see it. Those who belittle victims of any kind are abusers.