Abusive relationships challenge our ability to take care of ourselves and leave us feeling victimized. It is important that you work on changing your victim mentality. Many of us complain that we are victims in our relationships. By claiming we are victims, we are giving up our power to do something different. We are a victim when we are truly powerless and without options. Children are victims because they have aren’t able to care for themselves by virtue of their age and the fact that they are under the control of their parents. As adults, we can be in toxic relationships with abuse, control, mistreatment, and misery, but are we truly victims?
This isn’t meant to minimize the complex dynamics in toxic abusive relationships and the difficulty in dealing with them or the real-life circumstances that leave us feeling trapped because any decision is stressful and full of negative consequences. Financial, relational, physical, spiritual, and emotional factors always have to be taken into consideration with how we respond to the difficult people and situations in our lives. Answer these questions to determine whether you see yourself as a victim and have surrendered your power to take care of yourself:
1. Do you see yourself as a victim in any of your relationships?
How you see yourself gives you insight into how you view the relationship. If you see yourself as a victim, you will not own your power to take care of yourself. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As he thinks in his heart, so is he” (NKJV).
2. Do you take responsibility for your choice to stay in a difficult relationship or do you feel stuck?
If you see yourself as choosing to stay for whatever reasons, you will feel more empowered. Viewing yourself as “stuck” perpetuates your victim mentality.
3. Do you recognize you have choices in how you respond to mistreatment?
When you recognize all the choices you have in how you can respond to mistreatment, even if you don’t have the strength or resolve to do them, you will recognize that you are a master of your own fate and will be encouraged to work on getting stronger so you can make different choices.
4. Do you believe God wants you to suffer by being mistreated and will reward you for it?
This martyr mentality is a misunderstanding of Scripture. First Peter 3:17 tells us, “It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (NIV). Suffering for the gospel is sometimes God’s will, but suffering at the hands of an abusive person isn’t the same as suffering for the gospel. In a toxic relationship, we often suffer for good by standing up against what is wrong. The suffering that comes from tolerance of wrongdoing is really suffering for evil.
5. Do you blame others for your feelings and choices?
Taking responsibility for ALL your feelings and choices, even if they are in response to another person’s mistreatment, is key to owning your power to make changes.
6. Do you spend time trying to convince others they are hurting you?
It is important to speak the truth in love but when you believe you have to convince other people they are hurting you BEFORE you can do something to take care of yourself, you give away your power and make yourself a victim.
7. Do you doubt your own feelings and perceptions and minimize how you are being mistreated?
Convincing yourself to trust your own feelings and perceptions is often the key to owning your power to take care of yourself. You victimize yourself by doubting yourself.
You can change your victim mentality in your abusive relationships. Recognizing how you need to own your power to make choices for yourself is the key to getting strong enough to take care of yourself. It isn’t God’s will for you to suffer needlessly; if you must suffer, work on letting it be because you have taken a stand to take care of yourself.