Being a Victim is a Choice, not a Requirement. It takes a while to figure that out. Some people are victims as a result of learned behavior from their parents’ relationship and don’t realize they are repeating that behavior. We have cognitive memory and muscle memory. Quite often we need someone who knew the parents, and is comfortable enough with us, to point out that we are exhibiting the behavior of a victim, as did our mother or father. Typically, it’s women who express themselves as victims. Women have come a long way in exerting strength in relationships, while it is still all too easy to fall into a submissive role.
Feelings of personal insecurity can cause someone to accept the role of victim. It’s hard if not impossible to see that our own view of ourselves defines us as victims. In this case a therapist or life coach can help us identify the way we think of ourselves, and how that view forces us into relationships and situations that stifle our voices and allows people to dominate us.
Fear of losing a relationship for reasons of financial security, loneliness, or cultural expectations can cause us to accept the role of victim in order to be accepted by someone who we think will take care of us and make us feel whole. We can even allow someone to hurt us physically, just so that won’t leave us. People do go to extreme ends to maintain an unhealthy relationship if they feel subservient to their spouse.
I have had clients who were using me as a mediator and couldn’t leave their victim role as I was asking to review the assets and debts for division. They didn’t use their own voice and the opportunity of mediation to break free of victimhood to start asserting their own voice. They couldn’t see that introducing a neutral third person, specializing in negotiation, was there to help them speak. If their spouse laid out what he or she wanted the settlement to look like, they were going to accept that settlement as written. Mediators are there to provide a path forward for both spouses so that the settlement can be balanced.
How to know when you’re a Victim?
1. You give the power of decision-making to your spouse, even when it doesn’t make sense.
2. You fear bringing up topics to your spouse, like the finances of the family, to avoid verbal hostility.
3. You don’t insist on being part of the income tax filing, and sign them without reading them.
4. Your spouse will present a settlement agreement to you to sign before a legal professional is involved for legal advice, or to initiate the filing.
How to Change from Victim to Equal Partner in the Divorce Decision-Making
1. Say, “I am an equal partner in this relationship and want equal decision-making in the divorce.” Practice this so that it flows out of your mouth at the right time. The message is simple, straightforward, and non-inflammatory.
2. Once you process and understand why you’ve accepted being a victim, your voice and attitude can change to one of Calm Control.
3. You don’t have to be mean, arrogant, or demanding. Bear in mind that it was your choice, consciously or unconsciously, to be submissive in the marital decision-making. More than likely, this submissive position as driven you to the divorce.That’s okay; you’re now exercising control over your own life. Using a calm tone, and words that aren’t offensive, is to your advantage.
4. What typically happens once a victim leaves their former role of powerless person, and assumes the role of control, is that there is an over exaggeration of attitude, which starts a fight, and blows everything out of proportion. The controlling spouse will be shocked at seeing a different attitude in their submissive spouse, and will become both defensive and offensive. That’s why it’s so very important to use a calm, soothing voice, and words that are just as calming, too. (give example) BIFF
5. A power imbalance has been created and maintained during the marriage. Once the victim wants to change the power imbalance, that will create fear in the mind of the controlling spouse. A calm tone, and a refusal to argue, will minimize the reaction of the controlling spouse. Remember, that there are also issues from the personality make-up, and from the way the controller was raised, that contribute their approach to a marriage. Don’t blame them. Sometimes they don’t realize what they’re doing. They need help, too.
6. Lastly, realize that when legal professionals are involved, and after you’ve received legal advice, the professionals will go by the laws of the state, and will be your support system, so to speak, to create the balance that never was, in working with you to craft a divorce settlement.
Just like in the Wizard of Oz, it was always Dorothy’s choice to go home. It is our choice to remain a victim or to be an independent thinker, speaker, and one who engages in discussion, shares their thinking, and offers compromise to a situation as opposed to acceptance of what the other spouse thinks. We have the power to break the shackles of control whenever we choose.
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