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July 19, 2010

While many will tell you that victimizers are out for power, I would disagree, especially related to those who emotionally maim. Victimizers are all about control. In Aristolian terms, their behavior is a cause that, in effect, produces a desired behavioral response from their victim. It is possible for people to allow themselves to be victimized in any social situation. However, some elements in our lives tend to be particularly bothersome. We need to know who they are so we can deal with them appropriately.

  • The Family: It is estimated that over 80% of victimization takes place because people are unable to deal effectively with family members who manipulate them. And you may be doing the same to them. This can range from anything to visiting relatives you don’t wish to see, picking up after others, to being the slave of the household without respect or appreciation to having no privacy, to instilling guilt, etc. Family is the nuclear unit of Society where values and beliefs are taught. It is also the unit in which aggression, hostility, depression and anxiety are learned. Our families will be the most enjoyable and wondrous aspects of our lives, if we make them so. They can also tear us apart and prove disastrous.
  • The Job: Many people are victimized by job constraints. Some superiors see employees as chattel with no rights. Some employees feel manipulated and intimidated by bosses or job rules. Some people hate their jobs and make themselves victims because they have to spend the work day doing something other than what they’d like to do. Being more loyal to your job than to yourself or your family causes some to abdicate personal freedom and family responsibilities. When people are frustrated or unable to meet job expectations, they become victims. There are a number of myths in the American work ethos that lead to victimizations. Thus the high rate of suicide and job burnout in this country.
  • Professional and Authority Figures: People will often allow people in positions of authority or with elegant titles victimize them. This can include anyone who has achieved an elevated status in Society from doctors, lawyers, professors, judges, and executives to policemen and judges. Some people find themselves victimized by the “supermen and women” of the world, many of whom will take advantage of their lofty positions. If people can’t talk to their doctor about his recommended treatment or charges for services he/she provides, then doctors have been given permission to victimize, and these people have set themselves up to be victims every time they receive medical care. People must begin to see them as humans, no more important than themselves, who are also trained in other areas. Authority figures will respect people who command respect.
  • Bureaucracies: From multi-leveled conglomerates to our own government, we live in the midst of victimizers. Many of these institutions pay people very little and use them in demeaning ways. Complex multifaceted and multileveled monsters are the primary employers in the US. Because they treat employees badly, they don’t care about the trouble you have breaking through red tape, completing numerous forms or searching through departments. Those employees are just trying to do their hated jobs so they can go home and feel as powerless as you do. Bureaucracies can be morbid entities for the citizens of the world to deal with. Ironically, some of those citizens adopt bureaucratic personalities as soon as they punch their timecards. Try to get an error on a phone or utility bill corrected if you want to experience the obnoxious, clumsy bureaucratic victimization.
  • The Clerks of the world: Most clerk positions were invented to victimize us. Not all of them but many. Clerks are there to see that people obey their company’s polices and don’t get around all the nonsense steps it takes to do anything in a direct and effective manner. They are often doing their jobs by keeping people from seeing or speaking to the boss. If a clerk sells shoddy merchandise, he probably doesn’t care if someone gets their money back or not. The person doing the clerk position may be the most wonderful and generous person in the world away from the job. But at work, they have a job to do and that is to drive people mad with road blocks.
  • Yourself: You read it right. You can be your own worst victimizer. Despite the people mentioned above and all the other people that could be mentioned, you are the one who ultimately decides if you will be a victim or not. You decide if you will be hurt, angry, worried, depressed, fearful or guilty about anyone or anything. If you are doing a job you hate because you believe it’s the only thing you are trained to do, you are victimizing yourself. If you are eating tons of fats, little protein and never get your behind off the couch, you are victimizing yourself by treating your body poorly. If you’re stuck in a rut and never do anything new or in a different way, you are victimizing yourself by restricting your world and experiences to what you’ve always known. Remember the Joys of Mental Sex lesson from December. Sacred cows are rules we set and never change because they are the way we’ve always done them. Go slay a Sacred Cow and then eat a good steak. Some people victimize themselves because they have no goals or expectations. We are ever-growing and ever-changing organisms. We victimize ourselves if we don’t reach for the stars. Remember e. e. cummings: “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?”

There are many ways for you to victimize yourself, and many ways for others to victimize you. In the end, whether or not you are a victim is up to you. Next time we can look at a few strategies employed by those who victimize us. Emotional victimizers make great villains.

Until Next time, happy reading and writing!

30 Comments leave one →
  1. jbrayweber permalink
    July 19, 2010 6:31 am

    Wonderful blog, Mary. Very informative.
    I think that we all encounter these victimizers in our lives. I can name an instance from each category I’ve encounter.
    Many moons ago, I worked for a company that just seemed to thrive on victimizing the employees on all levels. Starting from the top, the victimizing trickled down. The farther down the totem pole, the more of your lifeblood they expected. Man, I get bitter thinking of all the manipulations, empty promises and time lost.


    • July 19, 2010 6:43 am

      You know what’s sad, Jenn! It’s all the leadership seminars and gurus of the 1980’s that talked about first-line employees and the moment of truth with customers were just that… talk. All those suggestion boxes they put out were for show. You as an indivdual person important to the company didn’t work in many corporations beyond FedEx, and they’re just like every other company now too. Life is what we make of it sometimes. Then again, some people wonder why some nurses hop from job to job. It’s usually not that they’re bad nurses. They just want someone to respect them and allow them to actually take care of patients.

  2. July 19, 2010 6:38 am

    Great post Mary!!! I am definitely a victim of myself… I really like that saying you make or break your own day. Decide when you wake up in the morning, is this going to be a good day? I try to stay positive… but sometimes I do a lot of self-defeating behaviors, lol–too much ice cream, bailing on the gym, too many deadlines at once, not enough sleep etc…

    I had the same experience as Jenn from many years ago when I worked at an office… One of the reasons I had to quit, felt like every day I was preparing for battle when I got up in the morning.

    • July 19, 2010 6:49 am

      I’m my own worst victimizer too, Eliza. I tend to overbook and take on more than I can handle, especially since the wreck. It’s like I’m trying to prove to myself I can do everything I used to do when I know it’s not physically possible. I try to stay positive, but there are so many forces in this day and age that exist to manipulate us. It’s important to watch ourselves, so we don’t put ourselves into a self-made rut.

  3. July 19, 2010 6:51 am

    Great post, Mary.

    It’s funny, if we think about it. We’re usually very much aware of who or what controls us. More often than not, we merely tolerate it until we finally say enough’s enough or find an outlet.

    I know my villians tend to have features of victimizers. Guess we know my outlet!

    But I love the feel you have here. It just screams ‘Stop being a victim’. It’s a good reminder to us all that we are treated the way we ALLOW people to treat us.

  4. July 19, 2010 6:59 am

    Oh, Candi, what a beauthiful summation. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this series. With RWA’s Orlando meeting coming up, I want writers to walk into their appointments with editors and agents and treat them as respected colleagues. Not go in on shakey legs when they have one chance to sell themselves.
    Any time a villian can be given qualities of an emotional victimizer, the better. They can manipulate without some people even knowing they’re being manipulated. If they just shoot someone, that’s nothing. But if they torture them mentally first, that’s a villian that can teach a reader what to look for in his/her own life.

  5. July 19, 2010 7:22 am

    Wonderful blog, Mary. Employers and significant others — all should read this.

    • July 19, 2010 7:13 pm

      Thanks for coming by, John. You’re right. I wish every boss, significant other, or any emotional abuser in the world could experience the frustration and trauma they put some people through. We all need a reality check sometimes.

  6. July 19, 2010 7:41 am

    Great post. According to the cycle of abuse, emotional and financial bullying are the first steps of the abuser to get control over the victim. Using these attributes to create villains makes them far more terrifying (and realistic) than a villain who is simply bent on revenge.

    • July 19, 2010 7:21 pm

      Hi Debra,
      You are so right. I want to explore the different strategies and methods emotional abusers use to victimize.
      I actually started to add the Invisible Victimizer to this list too – specifically for those commiting identity theft. I don’t know if they’ve ever been technically classified as emotional abusers, but they abuse and many go happily on their way, not knowing and probably not caring that they’ve all but destroyed someone’s life. And just think about the abuse the victim of identity theft goes through with the IRS and SS Admin to clear up things. There are also people who adopt fake identities online and send horrible email, etc. They brainwash people and lure them into meetings. Life can be scary in this day and age.

  7. July 19, 2010 12:30 pm

    This post on victimization conjured up the character of “Oliver Twist” — his greatest fault was being born to a dying mother. Today’s children suffer in real life situations very much like the character of Oliver Twist in the novel by Charles Dickens — orphans being sent into forced labor at workhouses.
    We don’t usually like to think about the cruel and secret world of children forced to work long hours with little to eat.
    I hope that your post will make a few people stop and think about this topic.
    Thanks for your insights Mary.

    • July 19, 2010 7:25 pm

      You know, Rita, this is the reason they say abuse is genetic. I don’t believe that. I believe it’s a learned behavior, from home or elsewhere. The reason it may appear genetic is that abuse victims often mimic behaviors they learned growing up. Dad yelled and swung a plank, so that’s how some one learned to disciple their children. Sad world. The one thing I always loved about Oliver was that he kept his innocence despite the horrors and we know that, despite being quiet, he had enough gumption to get by, because he asked for seconds.

  8. July 19, 2010 8:39 pm

    Great post with lots of good info to mull over. Love your comments about the clerks. Yes, I’ve met a few of them…maybe more than a few. Good folks probably out of the work place, but by golly, they’ve got a job to do and nothing will stop them from doing it, even if there’s a better solution to a problem or an easier route to take.

    Leaving the computer now to victimize myself with a fudge bar…at least it’s low fat.

    • July 20, 2010 8:05 pm

      Hey, I wish I had one of those fudge bars, Debbie! I’m dealing with some of the clerks of the world right now.

  9. July 20, 2010 3:50 am

    I’m defo my own worst victimizer!! Great blog post.

    • July 20, 2010 8:06 pm

      Thank for stopping by, Margaret. I sometimes think we are all our own worst victimizers in some areas. I know I am.

  10. July 20, 2010 4:58 am

    Excellent post! I can identify myself in a few of these scenarios. Right now the office and my boss is one of them, the other is past family relationships that I’ve set boundaries to limit. I keep browsing the job market in our area, but nothing in my field has opened up. Great scenarios for novel writing and characterization.

    • July 20, 2010 8:13 pm

      So glad you enjoyed the post, Jennifer. I wanted to explore the whole victim issue as much for our own mental health as for characterization. Most people don’t realize they are victims until it’s too late. Then again, I have an abuse survivor in my book and I thought it would be a timely topic.

      Also, for all those about to leave for RWA’s meeting in Orlando, remember: Editors and Agents are colleagues. Meet them on your level. They want the next bestseller and they hope you have, or they wouldn’t be wasting time on appointments. I know I’m becoming a broken record on this point (or for those of a younger generation, a warped DVD), but it is so important to know that professional doesn’t mean stuffy or subserviant. You’re not selling your book at that appointment. You’re selling yourself. Be personable, fresh and witty. Editors and agents want people who are promotable as well as articulate. (Will step down from soapbox now).

      • Barry permalink
        July 22, 2010 2:40 am

        Amen sister !!

  11. Zrinka Jelic permalink
    July 20, 2010 9:01 am

    This is good blog. I’d like to say that we’re not preparing our kids for the real world out there. My 6 yr. old came home with a class project they worked on the entire year about how special he is and how special God made him. Yes, that’s all nice and dandy, but I’m thinking to myself as I flipped through the pages, God made us all special, but to the ordinary world down here, we’re nothing special. And kids are growing up with these expectations of being special and when they go in the real world they find out just how nothing special they really are. They all think they deserve some special treatment just because they’re special and they don’t need to try hard, or at least try for that matter, never mind apply themselves. That’s why my 14 yrs niece who’s extremely overweight and can barely read McDonald’s menu and is proud of it, cannot even see what she’s doing to herself. Grossly fat, dumb and lazy, that’s how special she is. And she has talents, she doesn’t even have to work hard, if only she’d try. Is she a victim of the society? Did school put these ideas in her head? She’s special, you’re special, we’re special. What’s that even mean? Who’s special? No one. And just how do I explain to my kids that they in fact are not special? That they need to work hard, try their best, things don’t just happen. No one will do it for them. They need to find their place in the world and be special to a few.

    • July 20, 2010 8:31 pm

      Zerinka! I’ve missed you. I lost your e-mail.
      What’s sad is we are all valuable, rare and precious. All of us are needed in the Great Scheme of the Grand Design. When a person is poorly educated and cannot assume his or her intended function, the whole becomes off kilter and unhealthy. When gangrene hit the foot, it must be chopped off so the necrosis doesn’t spread. And as you said, many people are raising children and teaching them to be victims. That one of many reasons I’m a big proponent of home-schooling. Another area particularly disturbing and that may make a good discussion for another day is teachers diagnosising ADD and ADHD. We’ve got so many children on ritalin that we’ve got a whole new generation of Rx drug abusers. And why? Because rather than telling John to go outside and run with Spot, “Run, Spot, run!” we allow them to sit on their bottoms playing Nintendos or computer games, etc. There little brains are infected with satanic games and their little bodies are neglected….

  12. July 20, 2010 1:24 pm

    Mary, what a terrific post. You stepped on my toes there a little at the last, but I don’t mind. LOL I needed it. Thanks for the pep talk and kick in the rear.

    • July 20, 2010 8:33 pm

      Hi Caroline, thanks for stopping by. And don’t think I’m not kicking my own rear too! Even with what I know and all the patients I’ve worked with, I can still see some these behaviors in myself.

  13. July 20, 2010 2:42 pm

    Many of these victimizers are, in fact, sociopaths. Sociopath’s differ from psychopaths because they don’t usually kill their victims, or even dislike them. They simply don’t care. They have no conscious, and only they matter. A sociopath wants what they want when they want it, and will do what it takes, including stepping on so-called friends and family members. The problem in fiction is that readers expect a motive, so psychopaths work better, they almost always have an “inciting incident” that turns on their cruel tendencies. Sociopaths just have no conscious. They don’t kill because of fear of being caught and punished, not because their conscious might bother them. Worst of all, to the outside world sociopaths seem normal, even charming. Sometimes even their victims like them. Hence they make wonderful con men and women.

    I had an instructor who talked about sociopaths and pshychopaths, her comment was if you meet someone who is both a sociopath and a psychopath – run like hell.

    • July 20, 2010 8:44 pm

      Hi B. A., thanks for the comments. You’re right. If I met a sociopsychopath, I would run like heck to get out of Dodge. The billing code on that combo should be 666. Of course, I still believe the reason Ted Bundy got so much fan mail in prison is because Mark Harmon played him in the original TV movie. I can still remember the look on his face in the interview scene when they asked him how many he’d killed. He casually shrugged, and didn’t flicker and eye as he said, “Ah, I’m sure we’re into triple digits.”
      You also make another interesting point that I may explore in another post. In addition to the Sociopathic Personality Disorder and Psychopathic Personality Disorder, most personality disorders are victimizers. Some of the worst are Borderline PD’s (I hate you, don’t leave me syndrome). They make for some of the best female villians, because they live to manipulate. Then there are the Narcisistic PDs and Dependent PDs. Virtually all PDs can be great villians, so I’ll put them on my list for future blog posts.

  14. July 20, 2010 10:11 pm

    Excellent article and so on target. You especially hit perfection with the part about victimizing ourselves. Great thoughts.

    • July 21, 2010 6:58 pm

      Thanks, Angelia and Zi. So glad you found your way over here. Most people don’t even realize they can be their own worst enemies.

  15. Marie permalink
    July 24, 2010 4:22 pm

    Organized religion is a breeding ground for victimization. Pray diligently, tithe continually, don’t speak out against the cover-ups, the scandals and abuse and you’ll get to heaven quicker. Never question, blindly follow along, have continued faith in a system that has proven itself to be faithless, and a higher power will save you. What’s more victimizing than that?

    • July 24, 2010 9:39 pm

      Hi Marie: while organized religions would certainly come under the beaurcracies of the world, I’m sorry to hear such rage and frustration coming through your words. I happen to love my Faith and my Church. But you have obviously had one or more bad experiences. I pray you do not turn your back on God and that He will eventually lead you where you need to be.

  16. Marie permalink
    July 25, 2010 2:04 pm

    Hi Mary,

    You’re right, I have had an unforgivable experience, and it has devastated me. My entire education was shaped by my Faith, and while I don’t blame God—after all he gave us free will—I can’t forgive my priest and the Diocese.

    I appreciate your kind words, and maybe one day I’ll be able to move past these feelings of despair.

    On a much lighter note, I enjoy your blog. You have quite a lot of thought provoking posts.

    Marie 🙂

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