A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

“Don’t be a victim!” — a victim-blaming message that needs to be stopped

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I went to an event designed to help local police and the community to get to know each other. There were tons of officers in uniform, detectives in slacks and sports coats, ADAs in suits, politicians in nicer suits, and Crime Watch Volunteers in pastel jogging suits. They had cookies and coffee. There were brochures on the tables and coloring books for the kids about safety, etc. They had a table for code enforcement, a table for fire prevention, a table for Volunteers In Patrol, a table for Domestic Violence…

There are lots of thefts from vehicles going on right now and various other non-violent thefts. Several of the brochures about this said “Don’t be a victim!” followed by crime prevention and safety tips like lock your doors and don’t leave your stuff in your car.

At the end of the night the terminology of the brochures was really getting to me. “Don’t be a victim!” What does that say? To me, it gives the message “Don’t be a burden on society!” so it stigmatizes victims. Maybe that message comes over to me partly because of the exclamation mark at the end. It sounds like an order, a directive from the authorities, the ones who are more powerful than the everyday folk (including us ‘victims’) and they are telling us what to do and what not to do. Haven’t we as targets of abuse been told what to do and what not to do for long enough already? Does it help when the police force us not to be victims? I know they are trying to help us, to warn us, to give us good advice, and I know it was just a sign and signs are meant to catch your attention, but the tone bothers me.

In considering Persis’s post on the Just World Phenonmenon it seems to me that society is hard wired to hate victims. No one wants to be one. And once they are, they want to shed the label asap and be a “survivor.”

I was chatting with my neighborhood officer and I mentioned the terminology on the handouts and how regular folks perceive those words. The chief was next to her and she got his attention and had me talk to him. I explained that those brochures communicate that victims are bad. It’s a punch in the gut to victims of crimes. I asked him to consider changing the bold print to “Help prevent crime!” He explained that “victim” is a legal term. I acknowledged that. I can see how it is something he works with everyday and it doesn’t mean the same thing to him as it does to the general population.

In my writing and in my advocacy, I make an effort to only use the word victim in a legal context. Otherwise I say “target of abuse.” I suggested to the police chief that changing the phrasing would engage the community to effectively empower us and make us feel like we can help, rather than the present phrasing which orders us not to become a burdening victim. I asked him to consider changing the phrasing as the brochures are updated. I don’t know if he will or can, but that’s what I did and I wanted to tell you about it.

I think it’s a subtle thing, but very powerful. It’s one more message that tells society that victims are bad; a covert victim-blaming message. It needs to be changed.

39 Comments

  1. Greater Glory

    I’m in agreement with you. I used to use the word “victim” all the time. During the process of coming “out of the fog” I began to notice that when I heard the word used, especially from the pulpit, I would feel really horrible about myself. In one of my posts on this site, I wrote “victim spirit” and Barbara corrected me saying “afflicted spirit” explaining it is a better term because the word victim when used gives all sorts of wrong messages. And, within a few days on the following Sunday my pastor at the time used the word “victim” in such a sarcastic tone, “the person acting like a victim is sitting in self pity and get over it already.” Forgot what the topic was about, but I cringed and immediately saw what Barbara meant. Thanks, Barbara! I decided it was unhealthy for me to stay there and moved on.

  2. Seeing Clearly

    Thank you for courageously and willingly taking opportunity to offer insight to the police chief. In many ways, his perspective on life is seen from the top of authority, specifically in his professional life. His position allows him to educate others on the appropriate use of the word “victim”.

  3. Brenda R

    Amen Ellie. Now I’m wondering what kind of propaganda is being used in my area. My personal opinion is this is victim blaming. Why should anyone have to hide their belongings to stop crime? It is not the fact that you left something on the seat of your car that caused a crime, it was the person who decided they were going to steal from you that caused the crime. Duh!! Are we suppose to keep our curtains shut so no one sees what we have in our living rooms, as well? People break into homes all the time. The same with abusers. No one asks to be abused if they are in their right mind. The perp feels entitled to you body and soul just like the one who steals from you feels entitled to your belongings.

    • Valerie

      The perp feels entitled to you body and soul just like the one who steals from you feels entitled to your belongings. Yes! Exactly Brenda!

      I am in total agreement of this, Ellie. I used to use the word “victim” at first, too, because I wanted to others to know that something had indeed been done to me. My H who took vows to love me had instead been emotionally violent to me our entire marriage. But the more I gained strength (and developed righteous anger over the abuse) it was an easy shift to call those who have been abused “targets”. As someone with NPD my husband HAD targeted me. It wasn’t random any more than theft is random. The burglar doesn’t perhaps know the target but it still isn’t random because they have been TARGETED. Just like the perp makes assessments of your home and your belongings to decide if its worth the risk to look for plunder, the emotional perp does the same thing. He emotionally frisks you to see if there’s anything he might want. He then makes a plan, puts on a ski mask disguised as love then comes and takes what he wants.

      “Don’t become a target” seems more applicable. It puts the emphasis more on the burglar (in all aspects) by reminding they are scoping us out (materially or emotionally).

      • Ellie

        I still think ordering us not to become anything, victim or target, that a criminal is responsible for is not a good message. Since writing this post, I have spoken to several other officers in the parts of the PD that would make such changes and they agree that “Help prevent crime” is a much more empowering message and they will work to put THAT message out.

      • Still Reforming

        Well done, Ellie! I appreciate your example to us all for how to effect change – that individuals can make changes locally – perhaps a small ripple that will spread across a wider pond. I’m glad you updated in the comments. That’s encouraging!

      • joepote01

        Ellie –

        Does “Help Prevent Crime” really carry any less of a victim blaming message? It implies I am responsible for something over which I have absolutely no control.

        Crime occurs because criminals choose to act against the law. There is nothing I can really do to prevent that. All I can do is take steps to try to reduce personal risk…and encourage others to also take steps to reduce their personal risk.

  4. Still Reforming

    At first glance I may not have considered it, but your pointing it out made me think a bit more about the message. The way I read it is: “Don’t bring this upon yourself!”

    I too presume that they’re just communicating a few words to the wise, but the way it’s phrased could insinuate that it’s your fault if you become a victim.

    This could all be part of what God tells us about “calling evil good and good evil.”

    I bristle at thinking that if I use the word “victim” with respect to my own suffering at the hand of my husband, I could be accused of having a “victim mentality.” Therefore, I now prefer to say “target,” which places the fault squarely where it should be.

    It’s a shame that real victims are scrutinized and made to feel like they are part of the problem when they are not. When added burden is placed upon victims’ shoulders, they are less likely to come forward and therefore evil is allowed to reign.

    • The fact remains that we still need to be cautious! Ten years in N. Y. City had taught me a lesson or two. I automatically lock the car, leave nothing in site, lock the door of my home, make sure that the backyard is locked … too many times, I had been on the receiving end … the victim! Is it not better to be safe than sorry? I have learned that even if you do take into consideration anything that could happen, there is still a chance that something can happen. One has to be prepared. Unfortunately, life in our world has become a chess game to out-do the next move of the adversary, the enemy!

      For fifteen years, I had lived close to the wilderness, in the mountains next to the National Forest. I had left my doors unlocked, there was no fear of the wolves, the bear nor the cougar. You can understand what drives them and we, as the intelligent humans, can take advantage of this knowledge. Men, however, can be evil to such an extent that it is far more difficult to guess the outcome …

      NMT

  5. Still Reforming

    Speaking of legal terms, I learned one the other day that gets my goat. As we divide marital assets, attorneys are negotiating how we’re going to do this. I have concerns about this process since my stbx is already in violation of a family court order several times over by continual secret removal of joint marital assets before mediation.

    In email exchanges about all this, my attorney wrote to me: “I advise we conserve your political capital, swallow our pride, and let (him) onto the property…. We can deal with (his) taking items which don’t belong to him via police report or court motion for replevin.”

    Replevin = “a procedure whereby seized goods may be provisionally restored to their owner pending the outcome of an action to determine the rights of the parties concerned.”

    In other words, I’m hearing the opposite message. “Go ahead and set yourself up to become a victim and if you become one, then we’ll seek to make things right later down the road and you can continue to pay exorbitant legal fees to do so.”

    • Brenda R

      SR, I read that the exact same way you did. The attorney should be saying–put it back NOW.

    • Ellie

      I have a lawyer joke that I’ll share when I get more time.

      • Still Reforming

        Ellie,

        I wait with bated breath (as opposed to bait on my breath – as my mom is wont to say 🙂 ).

    • “Go ahead and set yourself up to become a victim and if you become one, then we’ll seek to make things right later down the road and you can continue to pay exorbitant legal fees to do so.”

      That is exactly what it sounded like to me, too. 😦

  6. Gary W

    The irony is that, if you call an abuser on their bad behavior, they may well “play the victim,” as though to be corrected is some sort of a personal attack. I observed this dynamic this very week. We tend to assume that others are as ourselves. Therefore, it may be that when pastors and other power-wielders mock victims, they are guilty of projecting onto others the very evil that resides within themselves (i.e. their own corrupt and manipulative tendency to disingenuously “play the victim”).

    Any pastor or other person who assumes that targets of abuse are playing some sort of victim card–and especially any who do so with condescension, mocking, contempt and the like–is very likely an abuser.

    • joepote01

      An excellent point, Gary!

  7. Brenda R

    “calling evil good and good evil.”

    Ah, yes. While the burglar or car thief gets hurt doing his evil deeds, the target is sued for his injuries and WINS. Just like the abuser wins by making the target look like a crazy person.

  8. Persis

    Ellie,

    I’m glad you were able to talk with the police chief and express your concern. I should start using “target” as well because, as Still Reforming said above, it “places the fault squarely where it should be.”

    Also thanks for linking to my post. Dr. Lerner’s research was very eye-opening and troubling. His subjects were what we would consider to be nice, normal, average people, and yet they proved his hypothesis by blaming the victim. Not just once but in repeated experiments.

  9. joepote01

    It’s very interesting reading of both the police chief’s perspective and your perspective of the terminology. Nuances of wording can have such different meanings, depending on context, expressions, culture, and individual life experiences.

    From my perspective, I did not read the warning as victim blaming, but as a safety message. A warning that evil people are out there who will take advantage of us if given the opportunity, and there are some specific things we can do to reduce our risk. A recognition that while we cannot prevent evil people from doing evil things there are some things we can do to help reduce our personal risk. We cannot prevent crime from ocurring, but we can take steps to help reduce our risk of suffering personal loss at the hands of a criminal.

    To me, it becomes victim blaming when applied after the fact: “Why did you leave your car unlocked?” “Why did you leave your purse on the seat?” “What were you doing in that part of town after dark?” “Why did you let him abuse you?”

    I absoltely agree that the distinction can easily become blurred and that care must be taken to avoid projecting the wrong message.

    It makes sense to warn people of evil and of potential abuses. It makes sense to practice wisdom and take practical steps to increase awareness and minimize risk.

    The problem comes when we start equating risk minimization with prevention. We cannot prevent theft. We cannot prevent rape. We cannot prevent abuse. Only the thief, the rapist and the abuser can prevent their crimes from happening. All we can do is realize evil does exist, be aware of risks, and take appropriate precautions to minimize risk.

    But we can only minimize risk…we cannot eliminate risk nor guarantee safety. Only the perpetrator of a crime is responsible for the crime, whether or not the target of the crime was acting wisely or naively.

    Recognizing a need for education and discernment to minimize personal risk does not make me responsible for someone else’s crime, nor does it guarantee my safety.

    Does that make sense? Even as I’m typing this comment, I find myself second-guessing word selections. I am trying to make clear distinctions while being aware of how language nuances can skew the reader’s perception of the writer’s intent.

    Thank you, Ellie, for the thought-provoking post!

    • I totally agree with your post, Joepote01!

      NMT

    • Ellie

      One of the officers I spoke to mentioned “target hardening.” He agrees that the criminal is responsible for the crime. And he wants to make it harder for those criminals to commit those crimes. I told him I like the term “target.” I appreciate the tips that the PD offers. I park a certain way, shop a certain way, walk a certain way, speak a certain way in hopes that criminals won’t mess with me, but if they do, they are responsible for it, not me.

      • joepote01

        Yes, “target hardening” is a better descriptive phrase, I think.

        Thank you, Ellie!

  10. Gary W

    Another thought: It may be that when predators demean their targets as having a “victim mentality,” they are, however consciously or unconsciously, attempting to intimidate them into passive acceptance of their circumstances. Otherwise, their targets may become the one thing bullies fear most. They may become warriors.

    It may also be noted that warriors tend to be extraordinarily effective when they have been pushed into a place where their only choices are to perish or to prevail.

    • Greater Glory

      Once again, very perceptive, Gary W.!

    • I’ll go for the warrior attitude!!! Does it not stand for survivor …? Women are stronger than some men may think! Let’s not forget that someone with brain has a better chance to survive than a brute!

    • Oh, Gary W., you are so absolutely right! I have lived through so many victimizing moments
      and have come out stronger and a warrior. Why should I give someone a chance to hurt me if I can prevent it? I do not like to be the lamb to be slaughtered and I became close to it once. However, it is difficult to find people, especially men, who are wise, kind and godly and understand I think that you are one of them. May God bless you!

    • standsfortruth

      Many of Gods people are “budding warriors” but they just dont know it yet.
      In 2nd Samuel 22: 26-27 describes the way the Lord deals with people of different charactor.

      2nd Samuel 22: 26-27
      “To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
      To the blameless you show yourself blameless,
      to the pure you show yourself pure,

      but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.

      Being shrewd is knowing your opponents ways, and weaknesses and using that knowledge to outwit him in the end.

      We know who our enemy is, and we must gather as much documented incriminating information as we can ( without his knowledge) durring the time of our preparation.

      It is ok to be shrewd with the devious, and not let him know what your doing.
      There is no other way to build a case for your defence.

  11. a prodigal daughter returns

    I remember a retired police officer that I worked with telling a young friend that jogged with earphones that she was engaging in “risky behavior”. He then outlined female risky behavior as “going to ATM’s, listening to walkmans in public, (meaning you aren’t constantly scanning for rapists) Going anywhere by yourself after dark without a male or other females with you, etc. Your risky behavior makes you vulnerable was his conclusion.
    Then I realized, there was a war on women in America that the normal proceses of life put you at risk for violence. I’m sure returning soldiers from OIF and other political hot spots are aware of the constant vigilance required and wondering “why do they hate us so much” They don’t have to come home and know because of their gender they are a walking target. No wonder women have anxiety issues.

    In America we re-frame misogyny fueled violence by blaming the victim for risky behavior. Being born female in this country or pretty much any country is risky behavior apparently. I remember walking on a side walk as an adult as dusk was settling in hurrying home before dark. A car pulled up beside me, rolled down the window and a man leaned over ostensibly to ask me directions. He seemed to feel entitled to my time in what felt very threatening to me. I yelled “don’t pull behind a woman in the dark and ask directions” as he cursed me out.

    The entitlement disgusted me and his clueless indifference about how dangerous the world feels to females especially those who’ve already been attacked in their life. 1 in 3 women are victims of sexual abuse–this does factor in to how dangerous the world feels. Yet the PTSD from living in a world where violence against women is steady is labeled a mental illness rather than trauma. Men get to be war heroes, women are just considered hysterics and bitter.

    • standsfortruth

      A Prodigal daughter said
      “Men get to be war heroes, women are just considered hysterics and bitter.”
      I have come out from “under the false label of bitter and hysterical”.
      This “false label” is a “packaged lie” from the abusers tongue, and carried further in the wind by the abusers enablers and allies.
      But I have learned by the simple act of securing a car in my name, and getting a part time job, and “proving my own validation of worth and value”, that we as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ are capable of “so much more than we can ever imagine”, that it would blow the minds of our abusers to see us operate in this freedom.

      They don’t want us to realize these abilities, because they know that knowledge will “empower us” to be able to see our abusive situtations more clearly, and give us the confidence and vision to carefully and methodically extricate ourselves from our abusive situtation, and seek a better life that will free us from their coercive control.

  12. StandsWithAFist

    This was excellent. Ellie has a knack for decoding language and clearing the clutter.

    A few years ago we visited a Caribbean island. The day before our departure we finally found a secluded beach known for great snorkeling. The road sign was a charming, hand lettered sign, pointing to a short dirt road that ended at the beach, with just enough room to park a small car under a tree. We had our fins and snorkel gear on the floor, covered witha dark towel. We also had a backpack under the front seat, and we locked the car to walk to the beach to see if it was a good day/time to snorkel. It was very windy, the water was choppy., and we were gone 5 minutes, tops, before we decided it was a lousy day to snorkel.

    In that 5 minutes our rental car had been vandalized, the windows smashed, a crowbar taken to the doors, and everything stolen: our snorkel gear, backpack, towels, camera, cell phone, wallet, ID—everything.

    We were In a foreign country, wearing nothing but swim suits and coverups, and had nothing but a set of keys to a vandalized rental car.
    So, we found the local police station, where we were promptly blamed for being robbed. Yup–the police officer actually told us it was our fault for having a rental car, and coming to “their” island made us a target. It was so absurd that when we asked to use a phone, we were told to use the pay phone outside the police station. When we reminded them of the obvious (how could we use a pay phone when we had no money?)

    • StandsWithAFist

      Oops–wasn’t finished but bumped my phone and it sent the comment. Sorry!

      Anyway — the obvious parallel here is that we DID do everything right, yet someone had targeted us but we were the ones to blame for having the audacity to visit another country, rent a car and go sightseeing. (The officer actually said this to us). We were wrong to expect to be treated with respect (He said that too) when we were nothing but an annoying tourist. We had NO value to those at the police station, and we actually began to fear for our safety in the presence of those who were supposed to help us. It became increasingly clear that we were smack in the middle of a corrupt system and we had to get our car & get out of there. They refused to give us the keys, saying they needed to “process” the vehicle but to make a long story short, there was a brief moment when we had the chance to grab our keys off the desk, run to the car, and drive off like a couple of bandits when in reality we were the ones who had been abused.

      I say all this as a metaphor for what Ellie was describing. We were NOT victims. We did not describe ourselves as victims. We had done everything right, locked the car, hid our stuff, followed the rules, played nice, but were targets Then we got victimized again by a corrupt system. We were targeted merely b/c we were there. We became targets again when we were vulnerable, got blamed for a crime we did not commit, & then got punished for the results of that crime that left us with no money, no clothes, & no ID. It was bizarre, and when we finally got back to the hotel where we had been staying, the hotel staff was mortified at what had happened to us and how we were treated, and did everything possible to help us. They were embarrassed at how their country had treated us.

      But isn’t this tale an allegory for targets of abuse? Isn’t it all too often the church who should protect us ends up blaming us, accusing us, punishing us, humiliating us? And then the most unlikely of people, non-Christians, who are horrified and reach out to help and to heal? As Ellie said, we were a burden (yet this country relied on tourism for its primary industry) and we were hated by the police merely by our presence.

      Sadly, how many churches view targets as burdens, do little to ease their pain and yet want our tithe money while hating that we are even there?

  13. Charis

    Twelve years ago, when I was single and living alone, I came home from a late night soccer game in May. It was warm. I chose to open my front door and lock the screen door to allow for a soothing breeze throughout the apartment while I slept. That same night, I awoke in the midst of a nightmare to find a man (a stranger) kneeling over me in my bed. You can imagine the terror!

    After the event, I called the police who notified the crime scene investigation unit. They took various items for evidence and lifted prints & hairs. They never found the man. It is a “cold case” to this day.

    I distinctly recall the officers asking me multiple times about the front door. Why had I left it open? Why not lock the heavy wooden door? Was that a smart idea?

    It was left up to me to point out to them that my porch was long and narrow, deep set against the side of the house and set back from the street. This man was a predator. No one, innocently walking the streets at 3am could possibly tell from the sidewalk that my door wasn’t closed, nor that it was only my screen door barring entrance. In fact, one would have to walk up to the porch and get rather close to the entry to discern these details. Further, the screen door was locked. Yes, it is just a screen door, easy to gain access BUT this man was not invited in. Since when does a screen door imply OPEN INVITATION?! At the very least, this man is guilty of trespassing. Stay out.

    They nodded their head and encouraged me to keep my front door locked from this point forward. Right. So this is MY fault? Thanks for that.

    One other detail. I was not raped that night. Yes, I realize I am a statistic. And a living testament of God’s grace and mercy – His profound protection that night. This man, this predator, tied me to the bed, undressed me, threatened me and laid atop of me….even had a butcher knife (from my own kitchen drawer) yet did not harm me physically. This, too, the officers quizzed me about. How did I escape harm?

    I “talked him down” is what I told the officers. Looking back, my conversation with this man took on a “grey rock” sort of tone. He was there for a very long time. Too long. The officers were concerned this man had found a safe haven and would come back. Maybe the next time he would be homicidal/suicidal and make me watch as he killed someone and then himself. Maybe next time I wouldn’t be able to “talk him down.” Maybe next time I wouldn’t be so lucky.

    To the officer’s credit, they recommended counseling. I never went. I guess I left that experience feeling like – well, no one would believe my story. After all, the officers had dished out blame. I was the one who left my door open. And, after all, how many women do you know ALMOST get raped?

    I suffered PTS – not knowing that was what it was called. It took a very long time to work through that on my own, a “gut reaction” to African-American men based on the fact that the man who attacked me was African-American; I hated myself for this. I had repeating nightmares where my life (or others) was in danger: of being chased through a house, hiding, getting others to safety, war, etc. My subconscious mind was trying to work out what my active mind could not. My insomnia got worse.

    Probably the worse decision coming out of this event: a botched attempt at a one night stand. I was a virgin when this man attempted to rape me. I was bound and determined that if lightning was going to strike twice – it would be on my terms, meaning, I would NOT lose my virginity to an attacker. Not my wisest move.

    It wouldn’t be until 8yrs later that I spoke to a counselor about the event for the first time.

    Strangely, I never really struggled with the idea of being out after dark, jogging at night, going to new places alone, etc. I was not going to let this experience define me or what I wanted to do, who I was. I was a survivor, for sure. But I am more than that. So much more. I am still…me.

    To me, when I hear the phrase “victim mentality” I think of the temptation to use my tragedies as a way to garner sympathy beyond its natural lifespan. Yes, these things have happened. Yes, I’ve been through hell and back (multiple trips). Yes, I deserve sympathy or empathy or compassion. There is a time and place for this. A season. I think those that live within the victim mentality are “stuck.” There is health beyond this season of actively acknowledging the pain to others for the purpose of garnering compassion. It is very easy to get sucked back in. Compassion & empathy feel good; especially after a marriage when both were absent. SO MUCH was wrong, SO MUCH pain, SO MUCH evil!

    Eventually, there comes a time to move forward. I think it is part of the path to healing.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Charis – this is good. It is wisdom, and we thank you VERY much for telling your story and experience. No one wants to be a victim – we all want to be conquerors and the hero who is always one step ahead of evil that would target us. But the real fact is that I doubt that anyone has ever lived a life on this planet and not been a victim of some wicked person in some way. And I suppose that the real hero in real life is someone like you who has been a victim and yet emerged as conqueror.

    • Still Reforming

      Charis,
      I can only echo Jeff’s comment and thank you for sharing your testimony. It is salt in the wound to share your terrorizing experience to those we are supposed to trust in authority (police, counselors, etc.) only to risk being questioned as if you are somehow complicit. It truly is evil run amuck. Thank you for sharing that. I don’t think that what you suffered is any less traumatic than if the technical definition of rape had occurred. You described perfectly the many facets of what a real victim works through post-event…. all the nuanced detail (like African-American struggle, virginity, safety issues) – all significant and important and that take time with the Lord’s grace to work through, yet are easily unnoticed to many who just hear the “facts.” Thank you again.

  14. Brenda R

    Charis,
    Thank you for telling your story. I am glad that you have found victory over your experience and moved away from being a victim. I suppose if these same police officers were to come to where I live having an aggressor happen upon me I would also be blamed for my behavior. I like to sit on the patio during the night when I can’t sleep and watch fire flies in the courtyard of the apartment complex where I live. I also do a little patio gardening in the cool of the evening.

    I see things as you do. I sometimes fall asleep with the patio door locked in the living room recliner, but it is the outside screen door not the inside solid window door. I also sometimes open my bedroom window at night, I suppose I should always keep that closed as well since uninvited guests may take that as an open invitation. This is all so backwards. I realize it won’t safe me from harm by not being cautious, but do I want to live having all of my safety features taken care of and yet someone could still break through my door or my windows. In the end what difference would it really make. Breaking and entering is still breaking and entering whether our doors and windows are open or closed. They are not invited and they come meaning to do harm.

  15. Friend of Victim

    Ellie’s post and Jeff’s comment:

    “No one wants to be a victim – we all want to be conquerors and the hero who is always one step ahead of evil that would target us. But the real fact is that I doubt that anyone has ever lived a life on this planet and not been a victim of some wicked person in some way”

    really resonate with me as I have been coming out of my own fog. When I first started commenting, I selected the username “Friend of Victim” out of sensitivity to the fact that although I am learning from my friend and her experiences, and all of you, I never wanted to imply that I have lived in/walked in your shoes to truly grasp the depth of pain.

    However, as I’ve come out of my own fog with this site, Lundy Bancroft’s book, other recommended resources, and come to understand the abusers, sociopaths among us, light bulbs have been going off right and left in my head in terms of people at past churches, in my own extended family, and at work. In these moments, I suddenly realize “Oh that explains so and so.” (Fill in the name). In the case of a few of the individuals, I’ve realized that I have been a victim (target), particularly at work. Yet what I’ve experienced starkly pales in comparison to those of you whom who have suffered it so intimately so I still do not want to put on airs that I know exactly what it feels like.

    It’s a conundrum though because it’s also arrogant for those of us on the outside of abuse to presume we’ve not been a victim or target ourselves. Jeff articulated it well.

    Unfortunately, this mindset leaves the majority of people ripe for the picking to be abusers’ pawns.

    I guess the best I can do is to change my username to “Friend of Target” for future comments.

    • Friend, your comment warmed my heart! Bless you! It’s wonderful to hear about light bulbs going off in your head about people in your own life. And even though you haven’t suffered abuse from a spouse, you DO know what the dynamics are like and can more effectively empathize and identify with those who have, because you can identify the abusers you’ve encountered in other parts of your life.

      That’s exactly how it’s been for Ps Jeff too. He’s in a very healthy marriage, but can identify with victims (targets) of domestic abuse because he’s experienced abuse from other people in his life.

      • Friend of Target

        Barbara, thank you for your kind words. It made my day!

  16. Charis

    And yet…and yet the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center boasts an impressive collection of names: the FBI, Homeland Security, INTERPOL, Royal Canadian Mounted Police – over 20 organizations in total – with the united purpose of protecting and enforcing intellectual property theft. In other words, this is the group responsible for the anti-piracy campaign, spearheaded by the FBI. Theirs is the slogan: “Piracy is not a VICTIMLESS crime” seen at the beginning of every film (emphasis mine).

    I guess I find this akin to talking out of both sides of their mouth.

    Perhaps the most valuable “victim” law enforcement is interested in is the type that helps pay the bills (or who could really leverage some type of power play either by wealth or influence in the game of climbing ladders and political intrigue). After all, the general populace isn’t going to donate millions to their next fund or wage a smear campaign with high-powered lawyers (carrot/stick). But the privileged few…the corporate entity…well now, that’s a different story.

    I’m not saying piracy isn’t wrong or illegal. It is. I find their word choice fascinating in light of this discussion and the mindset I have run into both as a victim of crime myself as well as an associate having worked alongside law enforcement for 10yrs as a firefighter-paramedic in the city.

    “The brotherhood” will protect those who can protect them in kind. They have each other’s back.

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