Millions of children are victimized by their parents, not because their parents are “bad” people, but because the parents feel inadequately prepared to cope with the demanding tasks of parenthood. These children acquire the victim role early in their lives. This childhood role will not end on the individual’s eighteenth birthday. These children carry the perception of being a victim into adulthood where it interferes with their relationships.
An older sister may emerge from childhood perceiving herself as the nurturer of victims, an older son may adapt the role of the super-responsible rescuer of victims, while the baby of the family may learn to use charm to ward off the victimizations that he has learned to expect from life. It may be that the middle child is singled out to receive the brunt of the abuse and becomes the designated victim of the family. This is the child who will carry the victim role into the future.
All of these children were victimized, but the dynamics of their birth order prevented them from playing identical roles. Each child has found a unique “solution” to the dysfunction. Yet, these children will become impaired adults also.
Yet, the victimization doesn’t stop there. The big sister will not be compatible with healthy men, only with victims who “need” her nurturing. Her children will learn that it doesn’t pay to be healthy. She will pay little attention to healthy children, only those who need her nurturing.
The super responsible son will be compatible with irresponsible, inadequate people who need his problem solving capabilities. If they have no problems, he will be out of business. They will see to it that he is kept busy. The baby will be compatible with people who will take care of him forever.
A few “lucky” children do not seem to be victimized at all. Their childhood is ideal. For them, life is pleasant when things go their way. Their friends envy their good fortune and happiness. However, these people are poorly prepared for the ups and downs of life. They believe things should always go their way. They take the routine disappointments of everyday life as if it they are victimizations. In time, they too become a victim waiting for the next victimization to happen.
Bad things happen to all of us, but those of us with self-respect do not perceive setbacks as personal affronts or punishments from God. They can say to themselves, “Relationships, jobs, money may come and go, but I am not a victim, I am still me.”
One action we can take is to write our anger down in a letter so that we can validate our experience and make it real. Writing it down helps to bridge the gap between our head and our heart. It helps us to repair that which has been torn apart. We need to take action in the real world on our own behalf. If we do not, no one will. In writing our anger letter, we are doing something that victims cannot do. Victims have no power to forgive, self-respecting people do.
Father and son yelling at each other image available from Shutterstock.
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Last reviewed: 5 Sep 2013