Stepping out of Victim Mentality by Understanding What It Is


EFB Carla SunsetVictim mentality is the wish, hope and belief that by accepting nasty behavior and even covering up or excusing nasty behavior, that love will be the end result. I can’t think of one time that compliance led to love. Not even once.

As a Victim I believed that my love could heal others.

I believed that if I could prove to them that they were lovable, that they would love me back. And I put a lot of effort into proving that they were worthy of love. I cooked, I cleaned and I complied. I was quiet and polite or I was funny and bright; I kept the secret, I didn’t ‘bring shame on them’, I turned a blind eye. I accepted what they dished out as it was the normal that they taught me. I thought that was love. I thought that my love was ‘unconditional’.

I tried to ‘earn’ love.

I tried to prove my worth so that I would BE loved.

I didn’t really understand love.

As a victim I believed that if I was compliant, and if I did what they seemed to require from me that I would be appreciated. But the rules always changed. Instead of realizing that their rules always changed, I thought I was stupid.

I believed that if I jumped through their hoops and proved that I was ‘trying’ to be who they wanted me to be, that they would SEE me as worthy. Nobody ever saw me…

they only pointed out what was lacking in me so I tried harder. My trying harder is what made them feel worthy. They had love mixed up with worth and therefore so did I.

But I thought it was me; they told me it was me. Victim mentality believes that when WE are who they want, then we will be loved. Victim mentality believes that it is always up to us to make the changes.

I thought that unconditional love meant that I should put up with the ways that I was regarded and disregarded. I thought that would “prove” that I loved them. (and then I would be loved.)

I didn’t really understand what love was. I only knew what I had been taught about love. I had been taught that love was compliance, obedience, and a false understanding of ‘respect’.

And one day I realized that the way I had been taught love was wrong and that ‘they’ didn’t love me the way they taught me what love was.

Love was all about them. I was the only one working to prove love. I was trying so hard to prove my worth to them (so that I would BE loved) that I didn’t realize that they didn’t follow the very rules that they taught me about love.

Victim Mentality believes that compliance and obedience will result in love.

I can’t think of one time when it worked that way. The harder I tried, the more they asked me to try harder. Because it was my jumping and my trying that made them feel worthy. They have power mixed up with worth. And because this is not how anyone is defined as worthy, they had to make me jump higher and higher. They are afraid that if they ever tell me that I am good enough, I might stop looking at my defects and then see theirs.

I stepped away from victim mentality in order to look at the truth about love and I saw myself for the first time. I saw myself down on my knees, groveling on the floor, begging for any scrap they would throw my way, begging for a love that didn’t exist. I saw myself as a woman who had given her life, and disregarded her own feelings and needs (as I had been taught to do) in order to be loved by people who treated her badly. I saw that as long as they kept me looking at me as the one who was lacking, I wouldn’t notice them and all that they were lacking.

I began to realize that love doesn’t do what they did to me. Love doesn’t define the one ‘loved’ as a servant. Love does not reject the one loved if they have thoughts, feelings or desires that don’t match the ideas, feelings or desires of the “lover”. Love doesn’t shut one person down. Love does not build one person up at the expense of another.

And love doesn’t accept that kind of treatment because it isn’t related to love. Love doesn’t accept unacceptable treatment because acceptance empowers the abusive controlling person.

And as I realized my own victim mentality, I saw my fear of their rejection. As I began to see the truth about the fear of rejection a deeper truth emerged; the deeper truth is that I was afraid of something that had already happened. Being disregarded as an equally valuable human being IS rejection. It was through finally understanding that truth, that I was able to see things more clearly and draw self-supporting and self-valuing boundaries.

And I exchanged my victim mentality for the truth.

I stepped out of the darkness and embraced the light.

I traded my shackles for life giving freedom.

I am not on the floor begging for scraps anymore from people who don’t want to know what love is;

I am dancing in the sunlight, laughing in the rain with my arms spread wide giving and receiving real love.

Please share your thoughts about victim mentality or how you learned (or are learning) that love doesn’t hurt, own, dictate or objectify.

Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time,

Darlene Ouimet

The inspiration for this post comes from my book “Emerging from Broken ~ The beginning of Hope for Emotional Healing” available on the upper right side bar here in the website.

174 response to "Stepping out of Victim Mentality by Understanding What It Is"

  1. By: Mariah Posted: 9th February

    Thank you for putting your journey out here so that we can find it 🙂
    Love as yeilding compromise and the ability to sacrifice….ha. Although I do think that compromise and sacrifice is sometimes an aspect of loving, in an abusive situation the guantlet of sacrifice is undergone by the victim because merely having to endure the victim is the terrible sacrifice the abuser does as reciprocity. What a concept. When I first read this article I was just coming to realize that I had some fundamental misunderstandings based on the experiences of abuse.
    For me, love had a very self negating definition. Love was a matter of what I would do or endure for those that I loved. but…
    I find it amazing that love can be applied to more than people. I can love an activity, an experience, a thing. I can even love the sunset. And in those instances of love…what I am experiencing is pleasure!!! and appreciation!!!! and joy!!!! Somehow in my childhood love had never ever been about experiencing pleasure or joy. I did appreciate but I think it was more of relief….it was okay this time, thank goodness this time they are in a good mood, i did not make them angry this time, it was okay i smiled this time, i was caught but not punished this time….or look, food, i can have some food and no one is mad.
    My point, I think, is that love should have an aspect of pleasure and joy! For me, the victim mentality was thinking that if i wanted pleasure and joy, I was utterly selfish and wrong and bad….now that is a victim mentality…is it not? Living life with shame and guilt for wanting any pleasure and joy and feeling like I was loving because to could sacrifice and endure! I am getting clearer all the time. It is amazing to me to think about positivity as being the ability and willingness to seek and allow myself to find and experience, cultivate and nourish pleasure and joy in my life.

    • By: Surianna Posted: 9th January

      Your post really helped me Mariah! I didn’t. realize I was so mad at myself until I thought about your words. I was mad I couldn’t fix it. I was mad I couldn’t see it. Intellectually I know that I couldn’t have fixed my parents or my husband and I was so conditioned that I just couldn’t see my husband as a narcissist either. But the little girl in me was still angry at herself. Your post and Darlene’s helped a lot. One more step in the healing process because I’ve been so angry. Now I’ll start to find the joy and happiness and peace that are what love is all about.

  2. By: Nicola Crombie Posted: 5th September

    Thanks bullying is a good word. I am almost 60 and still bullied and verbally abused by my older brothers. I married a very verbally abusive man and I adult child is verbally abusive and the others have self-esteem problems like me. I am working on it. Thanks

  3. By: Kris Posted: 4th September

    im still here,

    How frustrating it is to not have your pain be acknowledged by the very one’s who caused it to begin with. The good news is when I was able to move further along in my recovery process I started to see that the only person who needed to see my pain was me!!! I found out that part of that penned up anger and resentment I had was actually aimed towards me!! It wasn’t until I finally figured out that none of this mess was my fault that I was able to stop blaming myself for my parent’s poor behavior and with that realization I was able to release all the guilt and shame that went along with it freeing my self even more.

    Now I let them think what they want to but this time I get to do the same thing. I no longer choose to tell my self a pack of lies and blame everyone else for what I did wrong like they do. I don’t need them to be accountable for what they did to me anymore because now I know the truth and that very truth that they are so afraid of facing is the exact same truth that is setting me free now.

    Hang in there. I feel your pain. Surround yourself with other people who do to and continue to work on your own recovery and the rest will eventually fall into place. I am 49 years old and I spent the last
    2 1/2 years discovering this for my self too. Who cares. We are doing it and that’s all that counts. We will be the one’s who are free while our FOO’s are still playing the blame game on us!! Too bad for them!!


    • By: Chanelle Posted: 5th July

      My mouth has been wide open & gasping, my eyes are still wide while U process what I just read!!!!

      Thank you so, so much!!! My counselor told me “I was playing the victim” and I was livid!

      All the other cyber finds defended my honor as a non-victim player… But this… Indisputable.

      I thank you for this valuable nugget to fully claim my life!

      • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 5th July

        Hi Chanelle,
        Welcome to EFB; glad you found value in what I wrote here! ~ you have landed on an older post. You might find all kinds of validation here in EFB ~ the more active conversations are on the more recent posts (see the home button)
        Hugs, Darlene

  4. By: Andria Posted: 3rd September

    This post describes exactly what I dealt with in my relationship with my family and my husband’s family. Darlene has it sketched out to a “T”. I could never do enough or be enough or do the correct thing. But in truth I went above and beyond anything that any of them would have done for me. It feels good to know that I am done helping those who do not deserve any of my time or resources.

  5. By: Nina Posted: 2nd September

    Thank you Amber, Tracy and Karen. “One thing that Darlene has said that has been really helpful is that the good doesn’t cancel the bad.” This really struck a nerve. My mom is the queen of “making me pay” when I don’t let her control me or just plain being mean to me whenever she feels like it. When she knows she’s pushed it too far she buys me something and acts like she’s some big hero and sweeps her awful actions under the rug and expects me to as well.

    She also is really good at being sticky sweet to get back in my good graces…then whammo! She slips in for the attack. I have learned to try to keep her out of my personal life. That was really difficult this past week. When she visits with my dad in the summer, everything is laid back. This time she came right in the full swing of the second week of school and things starting up at church. She had her watchful eye on everything going on in my household all week and it made me so uneasy. I was constantly waiting for her to interject her judgmental opinion.

    We don’t see things the same at all! It is detrimental for me to disagree with her. She will repeat her opinion louder! She’ll repeat what she thinks over and over again. She Will take a sarcastic tone and verbally attack me (of course with the notion that she is only joking). I can handle a couple to a few days of it by pushing it away from me but after over a week my resolve gets weak.

    Somehow I’m the bad guy. I’m the idiot. My opinions and beliefs are stupid. But she is shining like a star because she bought me a bunch of clothes and took us out to eat a few times. Then I feel guilty standing up to her. It’s sick!

    Also, she knows how much my husband and I struggle financially. So yesterday I made the mistake of texting her to keep her up on a situation with my daughter (which I cringed to do. I was holding up my end of obedience since I told her I would ugh!) So, she calls me right as I’m getting ready to head out the door to pick her up. I sounded irritated since I was distacted getting ready (which she had spent all week with me leaving about that time) and she says what’s wrong? I told her I was getting ready to head to the school. (I was also irritated she was calling me instead of just texting back). She spewed all her opinions on the issue with my daughter hardly listening to what I had to say. Then like an idiot I started talking about how we may not get our deposit back from our previous landlords. So she sarts ripping on Christians. I am a Christian and she can’t stand that.

    Then she proceeds to brag about how my dad bought her an iPad for her birthday and how spoiled she is that she got a new iPad and a Kindle and a new car all in 6 months! She is so hung up on money and things. That stuff doesn’t matter that much to me. I get tired of her bragging about all that she has all the time.

    I’m sorry if I am rambling. I’m just so irritated and am desperate to put some distance between us again. All while feeling guilty that I feel this way. Makes me feel like I’m crazy. What a vicious cycle. Smh.

  6. By: Karen A Posted: 2nd September

    Nina, those with narcissistic personality disorder are good at brown-nosing, sucking up, and they don’t always behave badly, but beware when they are appearing to be nice because there is usually ulterior motive. My mother-in-law has narcissistic personality disorder and nearly every nice thing that she does is for a sinister and selfish reason. She taught all of her children to be the same way. They all play head games with each other and when they know that they went too far they will do something nice to smoothing things over and they use those nice acts as examples of how good and nice they are. They will be quiet for a while after doing something nice, simply waiting for the person who they originally harmed to “get over it.” They are experts at preying on good and honest people’s conscience and they do it consistently. You must always be cautious and extremely protective of yourself when these types of people do something nice or kind for you. Never let them get into your conscience because that is their goal and they are usually very successful at manipulating using good people’s conscience.

  7. By: Tracy Posted: 2nd September

    “I am always left feeling a recovery process and a complete renewing of my mind when she leaves.” – YES! That is the hard part. I fully understand this. It happens to me with my dad and especially happened with my mother-in-law.
    I really believe this is where the entrapment lies. They do just enough (whether it is conscious or not is the million dollar question)–to keep us “hooked” if you will, doubting ourselves….the key is the feelings you have when they leave. Just as you stated, the confusion….a real , genuine non Narc person wouldn’t leave you feeling this way after you have been in their presence. That is the difference to me.

  8. By: Amber Posted: 2nd September

    Hi Nina, I dealt with similar things with my mother. My mother has passed on but I still get her voice in my head even three years later. My mother belittled me a lot growing up and even into adulthood and this severely damaged my self esteem and ability to handle adult life in a way that considers my best interest. I had to do a lot of climbing out of the hole I was in, and Darlene’s blog has been very helpful. I also had some really fun times with my mother. She did have a great sense of humor at times; that is, when her humor was not directed at tearing someone else down. One thing that Darlene has said that has been really helpful is that the good doesn’t cancel the bad. So just because I had some fun times, it doesn’t cancel out the fact that she demeaned me, hit me, and thought my only purpose in life was to reduce her workload. My mother had some narcissistic traits, but I don’t think she was a full blown narcissist. She did do nice things sometimes. Maybe your Mom is like that too.
    I was no contact with my mother for three years a while back. Actually, she dumped me because I wouldn’t give her a big part of our savings that she wanted to borrow. She and her husband do not handle money well and I knew I would never get it back, so I said ” no”! She hung up on me. She initiated contact with a phone call three years later and just started talking as if nothing had happened. But I didn’t let her off easily. I told her I did not like what she did and is never to do that again if she wants a relationship with me. At that time I decided that the relationship was going to be different than before. We would have contact, but it would be limited and on my terms. We were able to continue it for the rest of her life, but I had to put my foot down a few times when she would make a nasty comment, treat me like I am less than, or try to take advantage of me by asking for something I didn’t think was reasonable.
    I hope this is helpful to you, Nina. Good luck to you! Amber.

  9. By: Nina Posted: 1st September

    I have a question. My mom (who has extreme narcissist tendencies) recently visited for just over a week…by herself. I moved several states away to get away from her control, her opinions constantly clouding my mind and her in insatiable need to make me feel small and stupid. She drives me crazy…literally! She’s a horrible “know it all” and her opinion is the only opinion that matters. She constantly rips on everyone. It’s embarrassing. She’s constantly trying to prove how awesome she is by bragging about her materialistic things while making fun of the older or “less than” things others have, including me.

    Anyway…I always struggle with getting her voice out of my head when she leaves. I have an awful self esteem and an intense fear about my relationship with my own daughter. The terrible thing is (and this is where my question comes in) that we have some good times when she’s here as well. We went out to lunch and laughed and connected. I insisted on paying. She took us out to eat a few times and bought me some clothes (she insisted). She’s not a completely bad person. However, I am always left feeling a recovery process and a complete renewing of my mind when she leaves. I feel so confused. So here is my question, is it possible for a narcissist to kindly do things for someone else? I always wonder what string might be attached later. But I want to believe that there is kindness in my mom’s heart. I think she means well (sometimes) but she is terribly damaged by her own upbringing. Ugh…it’s so frustrating and makes me feel so bipolar and crazy. Moving away I tried to cut her off but she always widdles her way back in. When I let her back in too much I ALWAYS regret it!

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 2nd September

      Hi Nina
      I wrote an article about this here ~ The good doesn’t cancel the bad. They are two separate things. I realized that I didn’t have to put up with the ‘bad’ because there was ‘some’ good. My mother was terribly damaged too but why does that justify the way she treats me? These are all questions/topics that I have written about here in EFB.
      Thanks for sharing!
      hugs, Darlene

  10. By: im still here Posted: 1st September

    i have come to the conclusion that i can no longer associate myself with my family. i am too depressed every time i see them, it angers me when i see them. my mom negates the fact that i and my brother were abused. she says dont bring up the past. well mom, the past ruined my life, the abuse ruined my life, the 24/7 every day, living in fear, knowing that you were going to have to be severely abused just a matter of what time of day ruined my life. the abuse was daily, sick father, just pray it away mother. she left him and left us with him. i cant stand my parents, they annoy me, i hate them for what they did. i have to love them to go to heaven. does this make sense. my brother, who was tortured every day says, get over it. he is so affected by his abuse and he does not even know it, he is so damaged. my heart aches for him. why could i not protect him and myself. i wanted to kill my father when i was little but i would not go to heaven. no one would help us. i tell my family how horrible it was, they laugh and said i had a good life. if it was such a good life then why did my mom have to run to my aunts to hide, she left my brother in the house, just protected herself, they saw the hammer getting thown at her at my brothers 5th birthday, they saw him get beat every day, they saw me get stripped naked on my 12th birthday and beaten naked because my dad did not like the pants my mother bought me, the whole neighborhood knew the abuse, it gets worse but they are all so sick. i cant deal with them. my husband cant get it though his head why i do not want any contact with them. he gets upset if i do not return their calls. when they got divorced, my mom told me i wanted to stay with my father, yes he made us say that at the divorce trial, my brother and i were both in grammar school. he wanted us, not out of love, but needed to hurt my mom more and needed to control and abuse somebody, that is me and my brother. i have to move out of state to get the hell away from my mom. now i have a sister that is mentally ill and she wants me to take care of her, she is a half sister from my mothers 2nd abusive husband. i have 3rd stage liver fibrosis and it is mom and dads fault. i can not be responsible for my sister, my mom would not even take care of my brother and i and yet she wants me to take care of my sister. this will cause me heath problems, due to my liver, and she does not even get it. stress is the worse thing on a liver especially when you already have fibrosis. my liver is functioning normally even though i have 3rd stage liver fibrosis, i am very lucky. it has not spread in over 5 years. i have eczema really bad and all this stress makes it worse also. gosh, why wont everybody just get it and acknowledge that my life has sucked and my brother and i are severely damaged from it. i cant stand being in this state anymore, i want my freedom from this, i am middle aged and i never had a life, not one day of happiness, never content, hating every day because of the abuse. well, i could go on, but i am really having a bad day, as i do every day. i love you all, stay strong, wish i could take my own advice, thanks for listening. xo

  11. By: hP Posted: 1st September

    Thanks, this makes the most sense of anything I’ve ever read on this much I want to highlight, but will just sit with it all…

  12. By: tina Posted: 1st April

    As I read more articles here, I am blown away. At 47, the abuse by my family was out of control AGAIN and I went to see a therapist. A horrible woman. I told her I felt like a victim – my whole life I tried to be a good person, it was never enough. I had to leave home at 15 so my father didn’t kill me, my parents and brothers have continued to treat me like crap from then on, even though where do they all come for holidays, when they need their dog watched, when they need help with something?, now I was dealing with a teenager who was abusive. I had never verbalized or I guess even in my own mind thought of myself as a victim but as I told my story to the therapist that is what I said. I feel like a victim. After 3 sessions with this therapist, who at times, would sit there for 5 minutes saying nothing, or type incessantly into her computer not looking at me. At the 3rd session, she said to me now I want to go back to something you said at the first session, You told me you feel like a victim. I said yes, she said I Don’t think you believe that for one second. You own two businesses, you travel a lot, you have a lot of friend,s you don’t think you’re a victim. I stood up and before I walked out, I told her I Think you need to find a new profession, do you know how hard it was for me to come here? I have wanted to talk to someone and get help for 20 years. You sit there like you are so bored with me, like I am a complainer and now you are telling me my feelings aren’t real?

    • By: Darlene Ouimet Posted: 1st April

      Hi Tina
      Wow that is awesome that you stood up to that therapist!! I loved reading your post! I didn’t begin to heal until I was heard and empowered to validate the damage that I had experienced. Thanks for sharing!!
      Hugs Darlene

  13. By: Marie Posted: 30th January

    Victim mentality consumed me from the inside out. I couldn’t see a way out of it. I grew up believing im dumb, won’t become anything so don’t bother trying. I lived with these thoughts until a year ago. I didn’t know it was okay to stand up for self.. as I was told to go cry in my room mom didn’t want to heart out it. She wasn’t emotionally available. I was effected by her shutting me out. I ended up marrying an abusive, controlling,hasty man. We are separated and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I was manipulated, pressured, was blamed for his errors, used in a pornographic fantasy. No matter what I did to improve me, it wasn’t good enough, I didn’t live to his expectations so I was punished with silent treatment, demands,verbal abuse. So much, he got to me mentally another deliberate act. I’ve been going to counseling and it has opened my eyes and realize I’m not the problem. I shook myself out of victim mentality and accepted the fact that I discovered I’m not a victim anymore! I decided to not allow that way of thinking.

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