We talked about addiction and how that word implies that whatever you are addicted to (computer, potato chips, sex, drugs, iPod) has control over you. Being addicted renders you powerless. So does today’s word: victim. When you are a victim, you are at the mercy of the person, group or institution who has wronged you.
Legitimate victims of crime and abuse abound. Victims are not responsible for what has happened. The rape victim isn’t responsible for the rape, the child not responsible for the abuse, the wife isn’t responsible for the spousal abuse and so on. True victims must work hard to reclaim control. They have to rebuild their dignity and their power. They must work hard not to let the horror that has happened become the event that defines them. It’s hard work.
Yet, many of us like to claim victim status because again, it’s an out. It’s nice to not be responsible. You can be a victim of poverty. You might be a victim of racism. You could be a victim of a poor educational system. Nowadays, many feel as if they’ve been victimized by the economy.
There is no power in victimhood. As an rape or abuse survivor will tell you. The power comes in the strength and the power to move beyond victimhood and true victims desperately want to move beyond that.
When I was volunteering for the job readiness program, most were eager to do whatever it took to find gainful employment. They were open to what we had to say about their resumes, their job search plans and their interview skills. They soaked up the information we gave them like sponges.
Yet, there were a few that just didn’t get it. They were the victims. They couldn’t be expected to speak properly because they weren’t fortunate enough to learn that when they were younger. Their cover letters were littered with misspellings and grammatical errors because they were the victims of poor schooling. They had been dealt a bad hand. The deck was stacked against them. They were victims of poverty. They were victims of society.
Yet, sitting right next to them would be a woman who dropped out of high school when she got pregnant and who lived in a shelter with her child. She was getting her GED and keeping her head held high because she was going to succeed. It was a foregone conclusion for her. Failure was not an option. Across the room was a man who had worked for over 25 years when a botched drug test cost him his job. Sure, he was discouraged but he was there every day trying to figure out his next steps.
We’ve all been dealt bad hands at some point. Victims accept that and don’t attempt to go any further. The bad hand is the end game. It’s over for the victim. They aren’t in control of their lives and their destinies. They aren’t wrestling for control, they have given up. Is that you? If it is, then continue using that word.
If that isn’t you, if you are a fighter, if you see a better future and are working toward it, if you are willing to do what it takes to change your situation, then you aren’t a victim. You are a victor. Victory is in your future. It’s your destiny. Look around, you might not be where you want to be yet, but you are on your way.
Don’t let ‘victim’ ever be a way that you define or see yourself. You are in control. Erase that word from your personal dictionary.