What is the difference between actually being a victim, or someone who is exhibiting a victim mentality?
Victim Mentality says “I am a victim of life”. A true victim says “I am a victim of a (set of) circumstance(s)”. One is “playing victim”, the other is actually a victim. We need to be able to recognize who is acting and who is living.
Abusers often exhibit a victim mentality. They take every slight, perceived or real, to be one intended to harm them. There are no accidents, no coincidences. Their perspective is that everything is intentional, that the world is against them. The “victim mentality” is false evidence allowing an abuser to prove themselves as harmless, injured innocents.
A victim mentality is false. It is a lie. It is a purposefully contrived misconception specifically designed to take the focus off their abuse of the real victim. The victim mentality is a smoke screen. The victim mentality is projection.
My ex is a professional at playing the victim. If you ask him about our marital relationship, he’ll tell you I was the abuser. He’ll even have stories to support his accusation. He’ll come across as sincere, heart-broken and devastated.
- He’ll tell you about the time I “restricted” his access to the family bank account… what he won’t tell you is that he asked me to come up with a family budget to get our finances back on track. I prepared a budget, we sat down and went over it together, agreed on it, and then – when he wanted to spend more than we agreed on – he accused me of being financially abusive. When things didn’t go his way, he knew accusing me of abuse would give him what he wanted.
- He’ll tell you I cheated on him throughout the last 3-4 years of our marriage and after separation too. (I didn’t, but how does one prove you did *not* do something?!)
- He’ll tell you that, since our separation, I unreasonably keep him away from our children. He won’t tell you that he never asks for extra time. He never phones them. He even, occasionally, turns down extra time with them when offered. He waits for me to offer more, for the children to phone him. He also won’t add that I honor the court order, or that I question the children’s safety when with him.
There has always been someone who has harmed him, someone who has it in for him, someone who is out to sabotage his plans and his good luck. Very often, that person was me and if it wasn’t me, it was another woman in his life. It was almost always a woman.
If a car cut him off on the road, it was purposefully done, and he assumed the driver was female.
If someone at work didn’t like him, they were out to sabotage his job. If he lost his job, it was because someone had it in for him, never because he was unreliable, dishonest, consistently late, or a bad employee.
In short, the “victim mentality” is one of blame. We must stop calling it a victim mentality. It isn’t. It is the absolute refusal to take responsibility for ones own actions and to blame others for us having to suffer the consequences of those actions. It’s a responsibility deficit, it’s a blame mentality, it’s an avoidance technique. What it is not is anything to do with being a victim. It’s wearing “victim” like a mask, like a costume one can put on at will.