IntroductionThe Oxford Dictionary defines the word "victim" as "a person who is tricked or duped -- the victim of a hoax." Or as a person who is "harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action." If you have ever been rejected in a relationship, discovered that your partner was unfaithful or experienced some other form of serious betrayal, then you can probably relate to this.
People look at being victimized as the act of someone doing something to them in which they were not able to fight back or in which they had little to say about. Having this perspective can leave you feeling helpless and disempowered. But the truth of the matter is that how you respond to the act, not the act itself is what determines whether you will be a self-defined victim or victor. For example, I recently saw a client who sought therapy because she discovered that her husband of five years was sending flowers to another woman. In her 7th month of pregnancy her world seemed to be crashing down around her and she felt extremely victimized. How could this man who promised to love and cherish her, value her and be faithful to her, have done such a thing especially with a baby on the way?
But here is how she turned it around. Instead of focusing on blaming her husband for ruining her marriage and ruining her life, she decided to focus on herself and what she could do to become strong again, for the sake of herself and for the sake of her child.
Step One -- Focus on you, not what has happened. Allow yourself to feel. Acknowledge that you are shocked, saddened, angry and afraid. Focus on nurturing yourself rather than projecting all of your disappointment and anger onto another. There are many ways to do this. Plan times to sit quietly and be still. Give yourself permission to let your feelings flow through you, rather than attempting to stop them. The good thing about what flows in is that it will eventually flow out. Exercising, taking a yoga class, doing meditation or even hypnosis can help you feel more like you are back on solid ground.
Step Two -- Don't sit around and wait to see what will happen, make it happen. I am NOT suggesting that you resolve the situation by ending the relationship. I am suggesting that you take action and begin to think about how you can heal after such an event. Perhaps you might seek couples therapy, marriage counseling or perhaps you may reach out to loved-ones who can be supportive. Choose your support system wisely. Surround yourself with people who are up for the task. These should be individuals who are able to listen without judgment and criticism -- about you or your partner. What you need to do is talk, sometimes just being able to talk and hear yourself talk helps you find clarity. Clarity should come on your own terms, with the guidance and support of others.
Step Three -- Consider different perspectives and work towards forgiveness. Sometimes it's really difficult to look past a behavior when it is so heinous and traumatizing, but in a lot of cases it may be possible to put yourself in that other person's shoes to see how what they did may have made sense to them. That does not mean that you are condoning the behavior. It means that you are able to see that what they did is more about them than it is about you. And remember, forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself. It allows you to let go of all of the bad feelings you are experiencing and move on.
Following these three steps can help you shift from victim to victor in your relationship. If you find that it's not something you can do on your own, seek help. Empower yourself so that you can find clarity and heal. Don't stay stuck, find a way to move through the event and find the joy and happiness you so richly deserve.
Dr. Laura Richter is a licensed Marriage and Family therapist who works with individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include: surviving infidelity, improving communication, beginning again after divorce and effective co-parenting after divorce. She is also a trained mediator, qualified parenting coordinator and collaborative law mental health professional. For more information, please call or text us today at 561-715-6404 to schedule a consultation to see how we can help.