Forgivness makes free

Forgiveness makes free

People sometimes do terrible things to others and the victims might spend years trying to deal with the consequences.

Often victims say they feel responsibility for what happened to them even when logic tells them that they did nothing to  cause whatever catastrophe that befell them.

Maybe immediately or perhaps at some later stage a transformation happens, the person affected becomes a victim, this is a process and it is an externally applied label in many cases. This alone  can make the “Victim” hurt even more.


If for example a young person has been drawn into illegal behaviour by someone else, who perhaps relies on the younger persons trust in them to manipulate and create situations in which illegal acts can take place, that young person may in their own mind be entering into  a consensual activity, they may feel that whatever is happening is something acceptable to them. They may feel special, or that they are gaining by going along with the direction of the perpetrator.  Those  subject to violence or psychological abuse may imagine that everyone is treated as they are, they may think it normal and be partly conditioned to feel that this must be how life is.


When the “Crime” comes to light the “Victim” is confused: people may be telling them that they are a victim but they feel that they, at the time, were willingly taking part. This is the root of their feelings of guilt.  They know that there is no black and white explanation for some events that have taken place, perhaps over extended periods of time. The realisation that whatever has happened is not normal or common may come as a shock and the reactions of outsiders may make them feel foolish for  thinking this. That begins the destruction of their self confidence.


The press would have people believe that there are good people and bad people, that each is separate and distinct. unchanging and totally one thing or the other. That imagery is good for building stories and selling papers but it is not helpful to the person dubbed the victim. Good people do bad things and vice versa so that when someone finds themselves labelled victim they feel that they do not fit  the narrow image that others portray of them  and therefore feel that they are to a greater or lesser extent complicit.


The effect of being a victim is often to lose confidence which leads the victim to feel that they will  continue to be a victim, long after the initial event.

There is even a traditional image of a victim--- weak, easily led, bullied, emotionally damaged, attention seeking, stupid, lacking self control or the ability to stand up to anyone, “not very bright” and many other crushing character traits that the outside world applies to them as its way of explaining how one person is so greatly affected by the actions of another and of  what has happened.


When someone is seen as a victim all those assumptions are wrapped around them. People feel that they are superior to the victim and have the right to make great assumptions, to take control, to over-rule. Every one of those actions makes the victim more of a victim, burying them  under a mountain of ideas which frequently they come to accept as the description of them. If everyone tells you that you are a victim and treats you as they think victims must be treated you  eventually stop fighting and accept that status, you adopt the “Poor me” way of being.That compounds the problem further because the victim may know that they do not fit that profile, that they are almost being bullied into a role that they do not want.  This process strips away the victims ability to make decisions or carry through actions  lessening their ability to fight back reinforcing to outsiders the “cant cope” image.


The victim may be far in both time and distance from the initiating event. What they carry is the aftermath of the “Attack”. They are frequently reminded of their status and find themselves revisiting past memories , over analysing the events because those around them, by the way they relate to the victim, keep  them in that constant loop.


One amazing victim  was a woman who had been in the concentration camps. She had been experimented on by Dr Mengele and  miraculously survived. For many years, after the end of the war, she worked to ensure that the facts and details of what happened during that period were not lost. She spoke to young people of later generations. The details were harrowing and the bitterness of 10’s of thousands of people similarly affected ensured that anyone  who had been through that experience was dubbed a victim. And anyone  even remotely connected to the events was a cruel tyrant.


Many who survived went on to have long and successful lives, they valued life and made the most of it  but, to their dying days carried the epithet “victim”, which instantly defined them, set them apart and underscored anything they did or achieved.   Many of those people had in various ways come to an understanding of what happened to them, that good people had been manipulated into doing atrocious things that  outside of war times most cannot understand.


Here is the punch line --- no one is a victim unless they believe themselves to be one. Many believe what others believe about them and become moulded into that image.


The one particular woman of whom I spoke did something amazing---- she forgave those who  had captured and imprisoned her. In that action she took the power back, she did something that no one else could do to her or for her, she made a decision to free herself from the tyranny of victimhood. She stepped out from under that shadow   and effectively said You cannot define me now—you can not call me weak, easily led, bullied, emotionally damaged, attention seeking, stupid, lacking self control or the ability to stand up to anyone and certainly not  “not very bright”.   In that moment she let the cloak of victim fall away so that the person underneath could step into the light and be seen  to have tremendous capacity of compassion, understanding and appreciation of her life including the lessons learned in the most difficult circumstances.

 To forgive  is not to forget. It is to recognise that humans are  capable of a vast array of actions, some good some bad, some consciously contrived others as a result of damage  or conditioning to which they have been subjected.


Separating forgiveness from memory enables victims to look at those past events, to see them without the emotional baggage that so called caring helpers have told them they must carry.  Letting go is a personal choice, doing so makes substantial changes to the way “victims” see the world and themselves. This in turn changes how they relate to the world and  how the people around react to them.


When did you become a victim and what ( or rather who)  keeps you a victim?


Forgiveness does not come easily—nor should it, but it should be sincere in order to make you feel better, make you feel in charge to rebuild your confidence and give you the path to the life you want to be living.


Psychologically we may hesitate to change—sometimes the self inflicted torment of  staying a victim seems preferable to the unknown  world outside that bubble.

 Contact me if you want to start the journey back to YOU.


© Martin Williams 2013/15/16