Victimhood is a state of being which can certainly mean different things depending on the circumstance. The target can be experiencing immediate repercussions ranging from emotional manipulation or defamation of character to severe physical danger. Certainly the seriousness of the related attack must be gauged in order to assign a level of severity. Obviously, if a person is encountering the potential for grave injury, they need to immediately get out of that situation and away from the attacker.
Having said that, even milder forms of abuse- false accusations, deceit, vindictiveness, selfishness, greed, coercion- can result in very serious long-term casualties for the victim- loss of employment, loss of professional influence, loss of respect from family/ friends/ peers and even legal issues. Unfortunately, manipulative types of attacks, in their very nature, can be tricky to immediately detect, meaning the harmful effects can accumulate over time.
Going unchecked, rampant abuse can flourish, possibly even becoming a coordinated attack effort. Rumors no longer spread through good old fashioned word of mouth. No longer just “small town drama,” the entire world is now an open platform for bullies and their “opinions.” We are all stars in our own reality TV show, whether we want to be or not. But, unlike truth, which is concrete and forthright, reality is perception, determined by the human mind and all in the eye of the beholder.
“I’ve heard so many stories about me now that I don’t know which one is the most popular. But I do know which is the least popular. The truth.” -“13 Reasons Why” (season:1, ep:1)
Unlike a decade ago, honest or distorted, those same perceptions now have ample opportunity to spread very rapidly. Ideas and attitudes “go viral” for a day or two and then disappear as quickly as they appeared, only to be replaced by something more “exciting.” But, if someone really wants to create a “conspiracy theory,” the capacity to do so is right at their fingertips. So today, coordination of effort can be compounded exponentially against you, if that’s what your assailant wants. Even at the risk of feeling as if you are putting yourself in the middle of a junior high squabble, you really don’t have a choice but to address the perpetrator’s actions.
“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.” 1 John 4:5
The culprit, no doubt, has their “reasons” for inflicting harm. Maybe they are resentful towards some perceived injustice. Possibly their maliciousness stems from cowardice, ignorance or just plain stupidity. Chances are, however, that they were simply angry at the world to begin with, and you just somehow managed to stumble into their path of rage. In the short-term, they are managing to inflict a lot of pain on their prey. In the long-run, the assailant is only compounding his or her own hurt.
Evil cannot create, only imitate. Bad people have learned from other bad people. They weren’t born that way. Don’t mimic the bully. Utilizing the same underhanded tactics will resolve nothing and will escalate and perpetuate the problems, which, by the way, is precisely what your aggressor wants.
“Do not think like everyone else does. Do not be afraid that some plan conceived behind closed doors will be the end of you.” Isaiah 8:11–12
Don’t fight back their way. Manipulations, lies and deceit only provide more fuel for the aggressor. On the other hand, composure, patience and truth will destroy your enemy. Fight back the right way, the sensible way, the only effective way. Fight to stop the bully. Fight to win.
- Don’t claim victim status. Forgoing victim status does not mean giving in. It doesn’t mean they win, you lose. Giving someone else credit for your state of being gives them control of you. If you are in control of yourself, the last thing you will do is victimize yourself.
- Reclaim your self-worth. Start by recognizing that no other human being, no matter how powerful they think they are, can define you. No other person can design your identity or form your image.
- Create solutions. Stop perpetuating the ridiculous and overly dramatic cycle of “injustice” and “retribution.” Rather than looking for problems, seek answers. Rather than selfishly looking for a scapegoat, focus on improving yourself.
- Remain on higher ground. Never put yourself on the attacker’s level. Bullies want trouble because they constantly seek attention and validation. Remain at peace. Be the calm in the storm. That is real strength.
- Maintain proper focus. You can’t control the abuser. Focus on what you can control, namely, your well-being. Focus on the goal. Take emotion out of the equation.
- Recoup your self esteem. Take your mind off of the negative aspects of the world. Volunteer or develop a worthwhile hobby. Do something meaningful. Create something beneficial. When your attacker sees that you aren’t bothered, they’ll likely get bored with you (and maybe even take a cue from you and get a life!)
- Never let them see you sweat. You can say a lot by saying nothing. Never underestimate body language. Smile, sit up straight, hold your head up. Remain calm and poised.
- Cultivate self-efficacy. Have faith in yourself. Never doubt yourself, even when others do, especially when others do.
- Exude authenticity. Ours is a virtual world where nothing is really real. With seemingly no real values or real substance, we are just faces on a virtual book, hiding behind a fancied fictional profile. Be sincere. Be genuine. It is impossible to regain trust of others if you are fake. Again, be the polar opposite of your bully.
- Set your own boundaries. If the attacker is someone you must spend time with (a family member, a co-worker), then it’s not possible to just simply walk away. Setting boundaries will probably make the assailant more vicious, but you have to ensure your own physical and emotional safety. Remember, in the end, truth rules.
- Be assertive. Rather than passively hoping for problems to go away or aggressively acting on impulse without thinking, address issues proactively and as quickly as possible. Do not retreat into self-pity, self-doubt or anger.
- Compromise. Realize you can’t be entirely responsible for all bad circumstances no more than you can for all good circumstances. The world does not revolve around you so realize that you cannot control absolutely everything. Place blame and responsibility where it truly belongs. Your adversary is wrong- you aren’t always to blame and they aren’t always right!
- Develop healthy relationships. Keep your promises to others and hold others accountable for their actions. Seek support of others and help others in similar situations.
- Tell your story. Never be ashamed of the truth. The truth endures and stands the test of time. Nothing can alter the truth. In the short term, what people “think” can hurt. In the long-run, the truth remains. Be patient. Truth tends to take a long time to emanate, as does anything that is pure and just.