10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Victimhood

Victimhood is defined as the state of being a victim. If someone was robbed in a parking lot walking to their car, they were the victim of a crime. But what if they were verbally abused by their guardian at a young age? This would make them the victim of emotional abuse. There are many actions, both physical and psychological, that can cause victimhood. Victimhood, while it is created by the actions of others, can have a psychological effect on people. For many people, this state of mind is developed as a response to what happened to them. It is a form of coping but it can have many different psychological and behavioral outcomes. Let’s learn more. Here are 10 Things to Know About the Psychology of Victimhood.

Victimhood can be a difficult thing to live with. 

psychology of victimhood

The psychology of victimhood understands that unfortunately, we cannot control someone else’s behaviors. This can lead to someone treating us wrong in a multitude of ways, making us victims. Whether this is physical or mental, it can affect us all on a psychological level.

When someone becomes a victim after someone else’s poor actions, they may suffer and deal with victim mentality. This mentality is simply someone’s response to being a victim. They are protecting themselves and finding a way to cope with their trauma or abuse. When someone faces multiple circumstances that make them a victim, it can be very difficult to break free from the victim mentality. 

There are psychological symptoms of victimhood. 

psychology of victimhood

Being a victim of something terrible can have many psychological effects on an individual. It can be difficult to see outside of the pain and the hurt and to feel strong and brave again. It can also be difficult to feel confident in the world and see a life outside of your victimhood. This can lead to many psychological symptoms some of which may include:

  • Constantly feeling helpless
  • Being passive
  • Feeling out of control
  • Acting pessimistic 
  • Having negative thoughts
  • Feeling guilt, shame, self blame, etc
  • Various levels of depression

Victimhood mentality comes from being mistreated.

psychology of victimhood

Some individuals think and behave with a victim mentality. However, they are not born this way. Nor does it come out of thin air. Individuals develop a victim mentality after being the victim of someone else’s cruel actions. While it may seem dramatic to someone on the outside, the individual likely truly feels this way and is suffering. This pain can be caused by a stranger, a family member, a friend, a romantic partner, a group of people, etc. Victim mentality can arise from:

  • Past trauma
  • Betrayal 
  • Codependency
  • Manipulation

Being the victim of a serious crime can have many effects. 

psychology of victimhood

Being the victim of a crime can be scary. These crimes may include being hit by a drunk driver, being robbed, being scammed by someone or a company, being kidnapped, etc. There are many lingering physical effects to being a part of terrible crimes such as these – being injured, being financially depleted, etc. However, the mental effects are often more difficult to manage and live with. Experts believe that the emotional impact of being a victim of a crime can include a scale of emotions over a period of time. While the order may change depending on the person, experts believe that the emotional impact tends to look like this:

  1. shock, denial, disbelief
  2. anger
  3. Fear
  4. Frustration 
  5. Confusion 
  6. Guilt, self blame 
  7. Shame 
  8. Grief, sorrow

Victim mentality can be a personality trait. 

psychology of victimhood

Victimhood can cause victim mentality. This is a damaging personality trait in which people consider themselves to be a victim due to the actions of others. Often times, this mentality is inaccurate due to the evidence surrounding the situation. Experts may refer to this as “playing the victim.” This allows someone to take blame off of themselves. It allows them to continually live as if they are not in control of their life. This exaggerated response to the actions of others can be harmful for their own mental health as well as the people around them. 

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There may be signs that someone has a victim mentality. 

As we mentioned earlier, a victim mentality, sometimes referred to as “victim syndrome” is a personality trait. But what are the signs that someone has a victim mentality? How do they react to others? How do they process the actions of others? Signs that someone has a victim mentality may include:

  • Consistently blaming others or outside situations for why they feel so miserable
  • Often blame, attack, and accuse the people they love
  • Have the mindset that the world is out to get them
  • Extremely cynical and pessimistic
  • Believe that others are intentionally trying to hurt them
  • Overly share their traumatic stories with others
  • Often putting themselves down
  • Often feel alone and powerless
  • Do not try to better themselves or look deeper into situations 
  • Will find something wrong with any situation 

Victim syndrome can be treated.

Luckily for those with a victim mentality personality, it is not uncontrollable. Victim mentality can be treated. Experts believe that to treat victim mentality, the individual victimizing themselves must first understand what they are doing. They must truly understand why they believe everyone is out to get them. As with most psychological treatments, there are varying levels of severity. An individual with victim mentality may seek help from a therapist, counselor, or other trained professional. They may also choose to help themselves on their own. Regardless of the method, there are steps that must be taken to treat victim mentality. These may include:

  • Having self compassion 
  • Ask themselves “why” they’re feeling this way
  • Being kind to others
  • Taking control of their decisions and actions
  • Redefining “bad” situations in their brain
  • Forgiving others
  • Leaving their comfort zones 
  • Self help books, podcasts, seminars, etc
  • Practice having gratitude for their life

Victimhood in a romantic relationship may cause troubles. 

As we mentioned before, some people are prone to having a victim mentality because of how they were wronged in their past. While their pain is valid, bringing that mindset into unrelated relationships can cause friction. If an individual is in a romantic relationship with someone who has a victim mentality, it may feel difficult and heavy at times. The frustrations may come from one of the partners consistently feeling unhappy, avoiding blame, not taking responsibility for their actions, and more. While victim mentality is complicated, it can be frustrating for someone to feel like an equal in a relationship with this as the undertone.

People with bad intentions may pretend to be a victim.

Victimhood is unfortunate and can lead to a lot of suffering and pain. However, it is not always truthful. People with bad intentions may pretend to be a victim. An individual “playing the victim” is an unfair game that many people have had to deal with. For example, someone pretending to be in desperate need of help at a gas station so that they can gain your sympathy and then commit a crime. Another example may take place in romantic relationships. Someone may claim that they were often mistreated by others so that they do not have to take responsibility for how others feel about them. In actuality, they were causing harm to their past lovers. Someone with poor intentions may pretend to be a victim in order to:

  • Control someone 
  • Gain sympathy 
  • Avoid taking responsibility for situations
  • Win an argument
  • Gain attention for themselves

We can help people who feel like victims.

Helping someone who feels like a victim can be frustrating. Someone who feels like a victim may not take responsibility for their actions. That can often times feel like a dead end, if they are in fact responsible for a situation. However, if someone is living with victim mentality, they likely often feel alone. So while it may seem intimidating to help someone who feels like a victim, they need love too. There is a lot going on in their hearts and their minds. Experts believe that there are tips for helping someone with victim mentality. These may include:

  • Being empathetic 
  • Acknowledging their pain
  • Avoiding labeling them as a victim
  • Acknowledging their negative behaviors such as how they place blame, complain, and ignore their own responsibility in a situation
  • Providing a safe space for talking and sharing
  • Setting boundaries with them
  • Avoiding apologizing in order to make them feel better when the apology is not appropriate
  • Asking questions to boost their confidence (“what are you good at?”)
  • Encouraging them to seek help from a professional 

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