An Anatomy of a Serial Victim

by | Feb 25, 2016 | Liberating the Mind, Therapy & Behavioral Change | 0 comments

This is a story about Harriet.


Harriet is a forty-something administrative manager before her company downsized and put her out of work. Harriet has a victim mentality.


I am calling her a serial victim because for years, she has conveniently played the role of a victim.


Victim Mentality Defined

In personality psychology, a person with a victim mentality has an external locus of control. A concept developed by Julian B. Rotter in 1954, locus of control is the extent of control in which an individual believe he or she possesses.


A person with an external locus of control blame external forces (people, situation, events) for his or her “misfortunes”. An individual with an internal locus of control believe that he or she is in control and can influence events and their outcomes.


People with victim mentality find that they are unable to cope with difficult or challenging situations because he or she had developed a habitual thought process which harbor feelings of powerlessness.



The “Eternal” Victim

Harriet’s proclivity towards victimhood has been ingrained in her since childhood. Her own limiting beliefs developed as a child made her belief that good luck was not part of her DNA.


At any one time, there will be (at least) one antagonist in her life. It could be someone within her family, workplace or social circle. She believes that all her antagonists are there to criticize, judge and put her down. So far, she had never fail to create an antagonist in her life. Otherwise, who can she blame for her misfortunes and string of bad lucks?


During her days as an administrative manager, Harriet often complained about being treated unfairly though on many occasions evidence had proved that she was either partially or completely responsible for what had transpired.


She thrives being the center of attention as it provides a temporary relief to her feelings of insecurity and inadequacy. However, it doesn’t help her overcome the four “lows” in her life – low self-esteem, low self-confidence, low self-love and low self-worth.


After being laid off from work, Harriet wallowed in self-pity. She spent endless hours on the phone with her sister who had to endure her complains, problem-focused issues and (often exaggerated) sob stories.



A Serial Victim’s Passive-Aggressive Behavior

Harriet tend to display a passive-aggressive stance in her interaction with others. A person of a passive-aggressive nature is subtle, indirect and non-confrontational. Part of their game plan is laying blame and planting guilt trips.


In the passive-aggressive victim mentality world like Harriet’s, it is never the victim’s fault. Using emotional blackmail, she makes people around her feel sorry for her. She also play on others’ guilt by making others believe that they are responsible for her plight and unhappiness.


One reason Harriet is still stuck in a victim mode is a perpetuating factor known as secondary gain. A psychological motivator which provides “benefits” of being a victim, her secondary gain comes in the form of offers of help, sympathy, and being the center of attention.



Are You Suffering From Victim Mentality?

If you identify with Harriet and feel that victim mentality exists in you, all is not lost. Victim mentality is a state of mind and not a death sentence. Here are some positive steps you can take to assume control of your life:



Being able to acknowledge that you are victim by choice is the first step to making a positive change. Understand that having a victim mentality is a thing of the past but need not be part of your future.



The ability to take personal responsibility empowers you to make great progressive strides in your life. Choose to respond instead of react. You may not be able to control what happens to you in life, but you definitely can control the way you respond to them.



Instead of focusing on what is wrong with your life, learn to find joy in your life. Identify things you can be grateful for. You can begin with something as simple as being thankful for a sunny weather. Create a “gratitude journal” and start documenting things, events or people you can be grateful for.



Releasing the pain and anger through forgiveness is an essential step towards healing. Forgive those who have harmed or wronged you in the past because holding on to the anger will not alter the past nor change the person who have wronged you. Your ego may keep you from being forgiving but bear in mind that forgiveness releases the “antagonists” in your life from having a hold on you and prevents them from tormenting you emotionally.

    The character in this article is purely a work of fiction. Any uncanny resemblance to real people or events is purely coincidental.

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