The Three Faces of VictimAn Overview of the Drama Triangle
By Lynne Forrest (Revised 2008)
Source: http://www.lynneforrest.com/html/the_faces_of_victim.htmlWhether we know it, or not, most of us react to life as victims. Whenever we refuse to take responsibility for ourselves, we are unconsciously choosing to react as victim. This inevitably creates feelings of anger, fear, guilt or inadequacy and leaves us feeling betrayed, or taken advantage of by others.
Victim-hood can be defined by the three positions beautifully outlined in a diagram developed by a well respected psychiatrist, and teacher of Transactional Analysis, named Stephen Karpman. He calls it the â€śdrama triangleâ€ť, I will refer to it as the victim triangle. Having discovered this resource some thirty years ago, it has become one of the more important tools in my personal and professional life. The more I teach and apply the victim triangle to relationship the deeper my appreciation grows for this simple, powerfully accurate instrument.
Iâ€™ve sometimes referred to the victim triangle as a "shame generator" because through it we unconsciously re-enact painful life themes that create shame. This has the effect of reinforcing old, painful beliefs that keep us stuck in a limited version of reality.
I believe that every dysfunctional interaction, in relationship with other or self, takes place on the victim triangle. But until we become conscious of these dynamics, we cannot transform them. And unless we transform them, we cannot move forward on our journey towards re-claiming emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.
The three roles on the victim triangle are Persecutor, Rescuer and Victim. Karpman placed these three roles on an inverted triangle and described them as being the three aspects, or faces of victim. No matter where we may start out on the triangle, victim is where we end up, therefore no matter what role weâ€™re in on the triangle, weâ€™re in victimhood. If weâ€™re on the triangle weâ€™re living as victims, plain and simple!
Drama Triangle, Victim Triangle, Persector, Rescuer, Victim
Each person has a primary or most familiar role - what I call their â€śstarting gateâ€ť position. This is the place from which we generally enter, or â€śget hookedâ€ť onto, the triangle. We first learn our starting gate position in our family of origin. Although we each have a role with which we most identify, once weâ€™re on the triangle, we automatically rotate through all the positions, going completely around the triangle, sometimes in a matter of minutes, or even seconds, many times every day.
Starting gate Rescuers (SGR) see themselves as â€śhelpersâ€ť and â€ścaretakersâ€ť. They need someone to rescue (victim) in order to feel vital and important. It's difficult for SGRâ€™s to recognize themselves as ever being in a victim position - theyâ€™re the ones with the answers after all.
Starting Gate Persecutors (SGP), on the other hand, identify themselves primarily as victims. They are usually in complete denial about their blaming tactics. When it is pointed out to them, they argue that attack is warranted and necessary for self protection. These two - the Rescuer and the Persecutor - are the two opposite extremes of Victim. But again, regardless of where we start out on the triangle, all roles eventually end up in victim. It's inevitable.
You may notice that both the Persecutor and Rescuer are on the upper end of the triangle. These roles assume a â€śone-upâ€ť position over others, meaning they relate as though they are better, stronger, smarter, or more-together than the victim. Sooner or later the victim, who is in the one-down position at the bottom of the triangle, develops a metaphorical "crick in the neck" from always looking up. Feeling â€ślooked down uponâ€ť or â€śworth- less thanâ€ť the others, the Victim builds resentment and sooner or later, retaliation follows. A natural progression from victim to persecutor follows. This generally moves the persecutor or rescuer into victim. Reminiscent of a not-so-musical game of musical chairs, all players sooner or later rotate positions.
Here's an example: Dad comes home from work to find mom and Junior engaged in battle. "Clean up your room or else," mom threatens. Dad immediately comes to the rescue. "Mom," he might say, "give the boy a break. Heâ€™s been at school all day".
Any one of several possibilities might follow. Perhaps Mom, feeling victimized by Dad, will turn her wrath on him. In that case, dad is moved from Rescuer to Victim. They, then might do a few quick trips around the triangle with Junior on the sidelines.
Or maybe Junior joins Dad in a persecutory "Let's gang up on mom" approach, or then again, maybe Junior will turn on Dad, rescuing Mom, with, "Mind your own business, Dad. I don't need your help!" So it goes, with endless variation, but nonetheless, pinging from corner to corner on the triangle. For many families, it's the only way they know to interact.
Our starting-gate position on the victim triangle is not only where we most often enter the triangle, it is also the role through which we actually define ourselves. It becomes a strong part of our identity. Each starting-gate position has its own particular way of seeing and reacting to the world. We all have unconscious core beliefs acquired in childhood, derived from our interpretation of early family encounters. These become â€ślife themesâ€ť that predispose us towards the unconscious selection of a particular starting gate position on the triangle.
Sallyâ€™s mother was an invalid who was addicted to prescription drugs. From Sallyâ€™s earliest memory she reported feeling ultimately responsible for her mother. Instead of getting appropriate care from a parent who was concerned for her well being, she became the â€ślittle parentâ€ť of a mother who played the part of a helpless child. This childhood scenario set Sally up with a â€ślife scriptâ€ť that predisposed her towards becoming a Starting Gate Rescuer (SGR). Care-taking others became her primary way of relating to others.
SGRâ€™s, like Sally have an unconscious core belief that might go something like this; â€śMy needs are not important ... I am only valued for what I can do for othersâ€ť. Of course, believing these ideas requires that she have someone in her life she can rescue (a victim). How else will someone like Sally get to feel valuable and worthwhile?
Sally would never admit to being a victim because in her mind she is the one who must have the answers. Nonetheless, she does, in fact, rotate through victim on the triangle on a regular basis. A SGR in the victim role becomes a martyr, complaining loudly, "After all I've done for you ... this is the thanks I get!"
Starting Gate Persecutors (SGP's), on the other hand, do see themselves as victims in need of protection. This is how they can so easily justify their vengeful behavior ... â€śThey asked for it and they got what they deserved", Thatâ€™s the way they see it. Their core belief might go something like this; â€śThe world is dangerous, people canâ€™t be trusted so I need to get them before they hurt me.â€ť This attitude sets them up to think that they must strike out in order to defend against inevitable attack.
Whereas a SGR may move into the role of persecutor by withdrawing their care-taking, (â€śThatâ€™s it - Iâ€™m not doing anything else for you!â€ť) a SGP rescues in a way that is almost as painful as when they persecute.
Bob is a doctor who often justified hurting others. Attack is his primary way of dealing with inconvenience, frustration or pain. Once, for instance, he mentioned running into a patient of his on the golf course. Our dialogue went something like this;
â€śLynne, can you believe that patient had the nerve to ask me to treat his bad knee, right then and there, on my only day off?"
â€śYeahâ€ť, I replied, â€śsome people just donâ€™t have appropriate boundaries. How did you handle it?â€ť
"Oh, I took him to my office for a treatment, all right,â€ť he chuckled, â€śand I gave him a steroid shot heâ€™ll never forget!
In other words Bob rescued his inconsiderate patient but in a way that â€śpunishedâ€ť him for daring to be so bold. To Bob, his action seemed rational, even justified. His patient had infringed on his free time, therefore, he believed, his patient deserved the rough treatment he got. This is a prime example of SGP thinking. Bob didnâ€™t realize that he could have just said no to his patients request for treatment. He did not have to feel victimized by, nor did he need to rescue his patient. Setting boundaries never occurred to Bob as an option. In his mind he had been treated unjustly and therefore he had the right, even the obligation, to get even.
Victims also have core beliefs that set them up for their starting gate position on the triangle. Starting Gate Victimâ€™s (SGV's) believe they cannot take care of themselves. They see themselves as consistently unable to handle life. They even rescue from a one-down position, saying things to their potential rescuer like "You're the only one who can help me.â€ť These are words that any SGR longs to hear!
Starting gate positions are generally set-up in childhood. For instance, if a parent does not ask their children to take age-appropriate responsibility for themselves, they may grow up either to become adults who feel inadequate at taking care of themselves (starting gate victim) or become resentful adults who blame others when they donâ€™t get care-taken. (a persecutor role). Either way, they are set up for a lifetime on the victim triangle.
There are many variations, and each case needs to be individually considered. We not only act out these triangular distortions in our everyday relations with others, but we also play out the victim triangle internally. We move around the triangle as rapidly inside our own minds as we do out in the world. We ensnare ourselves on the triangle with dishonest and dysfunctional internal dialogue. For example, we may come down hard on ourselves for not completing a project. Perhaps we lambaste ourselves as being lazy, inadequate or defective (P), causing us to spiral into feelings of anger and self-worthlessness. Inwardly, we cower to this persecutory voice, fearing it may be right (V). Finally when we canâ€™t bear it anymore, we take ourselves off the hook by justifying, minimizing or indulging in some form of escape. This is how we rescue ourselves. This could go on for minutes, hours or days.
Sometimes we rescue ourselves and others by denying what we know - sort of like; "If I look the other way and pretend not to notice, it will go away". Denial or inner drama of any kind perpetuates a vicious cycle of shame and self loathing. Moving around the triangle keeps the self-disparaging messages running. The victim triangle becomes our very own shame-making machine. Itâ€™s up to us to learn how to turn this noisy mental machine off.
We canâ€™t get off the triangle until we recognize weâ€™re on it. Once we make it conscious, we observe our interactions with others as a way to identify our own starting gate position. What hooks us? From where do I enter the triangle once Iâ€™ve been hooked? We begin to train our Internal Observer to notice, without judgment, our conversations with loved ones, especially those more â€śstickyâ€ť moments (where we walk on eggshells).
Itâ€™s helpful to learn what the costs and trade-offs are for each of the three roles. Each role has its own language, beliefs and behavior - itâ€™s beneficial to know them. This helps us to identify when weâ€™re on the triangle. Studying the roles also promotes a quicker recognition of when weâ€™re being baited to play. With all that in mind, let's examine each role more carefully.
The Rescuer might be described as a shadow aspect of the mother principle. Instead of an appropriate expression of support and nurturing, the Rescuer tends to â€śsmotherâ€ť, control and manipulate others - â€śfor their own goodâ€ť, of course. Theirs is a misguided understanding of what it is to encourage, empower and protect.
A Starting Gate Rescuer is the classic, co-dependent. The SGR tends be enabling, overly protective - the one who wants to "fix it". Rescuing is an addiction that comes from an unconscious need to feel valued. Thereâ€™s no better way to feel important than to be a savior! Taking care of others may be the Rescuers best game plan for getting to feel worthwhile.
SGRâ€™s usually grow up in families where their dependency needs are not acknowledged. Itâ€™s a psychological fact that we treat ourselves the way we were treated as children. The budding Rescuer grows up in an environment where their needs are negated and so tend to treat themselves with the same degree of negligence that they experienced as children. Without permission to take care of themselves, their needs go underground and they turn instead to taking care of others.
A SGR often gains great satisfaction by identifying with their care-taking role. They are generally proud of what â€śhelpersâ€ť and â€śfixersâ€ť they are. Often they are socially acclaimed, even rewarded, for what can be seen as â€śselfless acts" of caring. They believe in their goodness as chief caretakers and see themselves as heroes.
Behind it all is a magical belief that, said out loud, might sound like, â€śIf I take care of them long enough, then, sooner or later, they will take care of me too.â€ť But, as weâ€™ve already learned, this rarely happens. When we rescue the needy, we canâ€™t expect anything back. They canâ€™t even take care of themselves - much less be there for us!
Often the resulting disappointment sends the SGR spiraling into depression. They fail to see that they, themselves are heading straight for victim through their enabling and disabling responses. Having denied the ill-begotten consequences of rescuing, these â€śdo-goodersâ€ť find it very hard to hear themselves referred to as a victim even while they complain about how mistreated they are! Martyr is what a SGR turns into once theyâ€™ve moved into the victim position on the triangle.
Betrayal, feeling used and hopeless are trademark feelings of the victim phase of a Rescuer's dance around the triangle. Common phrases for the martyred SGR are; "After all I've done for you, this is the thanks I get?" or "No matter how much I do, it's never enough"; or, "If you loved me, you wouldnâ€™t treat me like this!"
A SGRâ€™s greatest fear is that they will end up alone. They believe that their total value comes from how much they do for others. Itâ€™s difficult for them to see their worth beyond what they have to offer in the way of â€śstuffâ€ť or â€śserviceâ€ť. SGRâ€™s unconsciously encourage dependency because they believe, â€śIf you need me, you wonâ€™t leave meâ€ť. They scramble to make themselves indispensable in order to avoid abandonment.
SGRâ€™s are oblivious to the crippling dependency they foster. They are unaware of the disabling messages they send through their enabling interaction with others. The more they rescue, the less self responsibility is taken by the ones they care-take ... The less responsibility their charges takes, the more they rescue ... itâ€™s a downward spiral that often ends in disaster.
A SGR mother of two out-of-control, teenage sons described it well. She said, â€śI thought my role as a good mother was to make sure my sons toed the line - I thought I was supposed to make sure they did the right thing. Because I believed that I was responsible for the choices they made, I told them what to do and constantly attempted to control their behavior.â€ť
Should she be surprised then that her sons blame everyone around them for the painful consequences they experience as a result of their own poor choices? Like her, they have learned to think that their behavior is her responsibility, not their own. Her incessant and futile attempts to control them causes constant battle between them, making it easy for the boys to blame their mother for the problems created by their own irresponsibility. Out of her own need to be seen as a â€śgood momâ€ť, this co-dependent mother unwittingly taught her sons to see themselves as hapless victims whose unhappiness was always somebody elseâ€™s fault. Thereâ€™s a good possibility that at least one of these boys will become a Starting Gate Persecutor. Certainly the set up is in place for that to happen.
This mother, as is often the case, was convinced that her sons were incapable of making good choices. She had a long list of evidence to back up her concerns. This accumulated evidence justified her â€śobligationâ€ť to control her sons choices. But because they were teenagers, she could no longer force their compliance like she could when they were younger. Inevitably she would end up feeling helpless, inadequate and like a failure as a mother (victim position). She would either give in to their demands or â€śpersecuteâ€ť them for not obeying. Either way, she (and they) felt bad. Then would come the guilt or remorse which would motivate her to try to â€śfix itâ€ť once again. And she finds herself back in her original Starting Gate Rescuer position for the cycle to start anew.
We met Sally earlier, who grew up seeing her mother as helpless and ineffectual. From an early age, she felt a huge responsibility to take care of her frail, drug dependent parent. Her own well-being depended on it! As the years went by, however, she could scarcely contain the inner rage she felt towards her mother for being so needy and weak. As a SGR, she would do all she could to bolster her mother, only to come away again and again, feeling defeated (victim) because nothing she tried worked. Inevitably the resentment would take over, leading her to resort to treating her mother with scorn (persecutor). This became her primary interactive pattern, not only with her mother, but in her other relationships as well. By the time we met, she was emotionally, physically and spiritually exhausted from having spent her life taking care of one sick and dependent person after another.
It becomes the job of the Rescuer to keep the other propped up - "for their own good", of course. Having a Victim is essential in order for the SGR to maintain the illusion of being one-up and needless. This means then, that there will always be at least one person in every SGRâ€™s life who is troubled, sick, fragile, inept and therefore dependent upon them. If the SGRâ€™s primary victim starts taking responsibility for themselves, the Rescuer will either have to find a new victim or address their own shadow needs.
Regardless of the circumstances of the one a SGR feels compelled to rescue - no matter how â€śbadlyâ€ť the victim may need help, rescuing can lead only one place - victim. If you are a primary Rescuer, this does not mean you cannot be loving, generous and kind. It is certainly possible to be helpful and supportive without being a Rescuer. There is a distinct difference between being truly helpful and rescuing.
Authentic helpers act without expectations for reciprocation. They empower rather than disable those they serve. What they do will be done to encourage self-responsibility, rather than promote dependency. True Supporters believe that the other can handle their own business. They believe that everyone has the right to make mistakes and learn through sometimes hard consequences. They trust the other has what it takes to see themselves through times of difficulty without they, as Rescuers, needing to â€śsaveâ€ť them.
Starting Gate Rescuers, on the other hand, donâ€™t take responsibility for themselves. Instead, they do for others in an attempt to get validation or feel important or as a way to foster dependency. Victim is just round the bend.
Like the other roles, the Starting Gate Persecutor is shame based. This role is most often taken on by someone who received overt mental and/or physical abuse during their childhood. As a result they are often secretly seething inside from a shame based wrath that ends up running their lives. SGPs, for survival sake, repress deep-seated feelings of worthlessness; they hide their pain behind a facade of indignant wrath and uncaring detachment. They may choose to emulate their primary childhood abuser(s), preferring to identify with those they see as having power and strength - rather than become the â€śpicked on loserâ€ť at the bottom of lifeâ€™s pile. SGPâ€™s tend to adopt an attitude that says; â€śThe world is hard and mean ... only the ruthless survive. Iâ€™ll be one of thoseâ€ť. In other words, they become perpetrators. They â€śprotectâ€ť themselves using authoritarian, controlling and downright punishing methods.
In the same way that the SGR is the shadow mother principle, the SGP is the â€śshadow father principleâ€ť. A healthy father's job is to protect and provide for his family. Rather than providing nurturing direction, the SGP attempts to "reform" and discipline those around him using manipulation and brute force.
The SGP overcomes feelings of helplessness and shame by over-powering others. Domination becomes their most prevalent style of interaction. This means they must always be right! Their methods include bullying, preaching, threatening, blaming, lecturing, interrogating and outright attack. They believe in getting even, very often through aggressive acts. Just like the Rescuer needs someone to fix, the Persecutor needs someone to blame. SGPâ€™s deny their vulnerability in the same way Rescuers deny their needs. Their greatest fear is powerlessness. Because they judge and deny their own inadequacy, fear and vulnerability, they will need some place else to project these disowned feelings. In other words, they need a victim. They need someone they perceive as weak to prove to themselves that their own destructively painful story about the world is true. Both Rescuers and Persecutors unconsciously â€śneedâ€ť a Victim in order to sustain their idea of who they are and what the world is like.
SGPâ€™s also tend to compensate for inner feelings of worthlessness by putting on grandiose airs. Grandiosity inevitably comes from shame. It is a compensation and cover-up for deep inferiority. Superiority is the attempt to swing hard to the other side of "less than" in order to come across as "better than".
It is most difficult for someone in Persecutor to take responsibility for the way they hurt others. In their mind, others deserve what they get. These warring individuals tend to see themselves as having to constantly fight for survival. Theirs is a constant struggle to protect themselves in what they perceive as a hostile world.
Joseph was from a prominent, wealthy family. His parents divorced and his father was angry, remote and used his money to control others. His mother was an alcoholic who brought home men who abused her and Joseph throughout his pre-adolescent and adolescent years. He, early on, learned that his only chance for survival was to fight. Joseph plowed through life with his head down the way a bull rages across a bullfighters pen. He constructed his life so that there was always an enemy that had to be fought.
On the outside, Joseph exhibited a swash-buckling, â€śI donâ€™t give a damnâ€ť persona - he was ever ready to gamble or take careless risks with his health. But on the inside, he was bitter and unhappy. He shared with me how exhausted he felt from a belief that he needed to maintain constant vigilance; he felt a desperate need to keep a watchful eye out for those who wanted to hurt him or his loved ones.
Joseph was constantly involved in court battles and even out and out, physical brawls. He was always having to get himself out of one â€śscrapeâ€ť after another. To his way of thinking these occurrences were always somebody elseâ€™s fault. He could not resist what he felt was justifiable retaliation. â€śI canâ€™t let them get away with it!â€ť was his most common response.
Joseph saw himself as someone who did not get the protection he deserved. This belief justified taking matters into his own hands. At least thatâ€™s how he saw it. He trusted no-one. Not even his parents had been reliable, so who could he depend on? This attitude prompted him to be in constant defense mode. He had to be ready for the next attack!
Joseph is an example of a classic Starting Gate Persecutor. It is easy to think that Persecutors are â€śbadâ€ť people. They are not. They are simply wounded individuals who see the world as dangerous. This requires that they be ever ready to strike back. They live in constant defensive reaction.
It is always difficult for SGPâ€™s to perceive themselves as persecutors. It is much easier to justify the necessity for persecution (thereby identifying with victim) than to own the oppressor role. The SGP cycle looks something like: "I was just trying to help (rescuer), and they turned on me (victim), so I had to defend myself by striking back (persecutor).â€ť
It can feel very threatening for someone stuck in Persecutor consciousness to get really honest with themselves. To do so feels like blaming themselves, which only intensifies their internal condemnation. SGPâ€™s need to have a situation or person they can blame so they can stay angry. Anger, for a SGP, can act as a fuel within the psyche to energize them. It may be the only way they have of dealing with chronic depression. SGPs often need a jolt of rage the same way other people depend on a shot of caffeine. It jump-starts their day and provides them with the energy needed to keep them on their feet.
Just as with the other roles, self-accountability is the only way off the victim grid for the SGP. There has to be some kind of breakthrough for them to own their part. Unfortunately, because of their great reluctance to do so, it may have to come in the form of crisis.
Ironically, a main exit way off the triangle is through the persecutor position. This does not mean we become persecutors. It does mean however, that once we decide to get off the triangle, there most likely will be those who see us as persecutors. (â€ťHow can you do this to me?â€ť) Once we decide to take self-responsibility and tell our truth, those still on the triangle are likely to accuse us of victimizing them. "How dare you refuse to take care of me," a Victim might cry. Or "What do you mean you don't need my help?" a primary enabler storms when their victim decides to become accountable. In other words, to escape the victim grid, we must be willing to be perceived as the "bad guy." This doesn't make it so, but we must be willing to sit with the discomfort of being perceived as such.
The role of Starting Gate Victim is also a shadow aspect. It is the wounded shadow of our inner child; that part of us that is innocent, vulnerable AND needy. This child-self does need support on occasion - thatâ€™s natural. Itâ€™s only when we become convinced that we canâ€™t take care of ourselves, that we move into Victim. Believing that we are frail, powerless or defective keeps us needing rescue. This relegates us to a lifetime of crippling dependency on our primary relationships.
A SGV has accepted a definition of themselves that says they are intrinsically damaged and incapable. SGVâ€™s project an attitude of being weak, fragile or not smart enough; basically, â€śI canâ€™t do it by myself." Their greatest fear is that they wonâ€™t make it. That anxiety forces them to be always on the lookout for someone stronger or more capable to take care of them.
SGVâ€™s deny both their problem solving abilities and their potential for self-generated power. Instead they tend to see themselves as inept at handling life. Feeling done in by, at the mercy of, mistreated, intrinsically defective or â€śwrongâ€ť, they see themselves as broken and unfixable. This doesn't prevent them from feeling highly resentful towards those on who they depend. As much as they insist on being taken care of by their primary rescuers ... they nonetheless do not appreciate being reminded of their inadequacy.
The very thing a Rescuer seeks (validation and appreciation) is the thing Victims most resent giving because it is a reminder to them of their own deficiencies. Instead they resent the help that is given. SGVâ€™s eventually get tired of being in the one-down position and begin to find ways to feel equal. Unfortunately this usually involves some form of â€śgetting evenâ€ť.
For a SGV, a move to persecutor on the triangle usually means sabotaging the efforts made to rescue them, often through passive-aggressive behavior. For example, they are skilled at playing a game called, "Yes, but ..."
It works like thisâ€¦
The SGVâ€™s rescuer offers a helpful suggestion to some complaint or problem voiced by the Victim. The SGV immediately turns the suggestion on its ear with a response like; "Yes, but that won't work because ...â€ť. The SGV then proceeds to â€śyes, butâ€ť any and all suggestions, as the Rescuer tries, in vain, to come up with a solution. The SGV is determined to prove that their problem is unsolvable, thus stumping the Rescuer, leaving them to feel as impotent as the SGV innately feels. They may also resort to the persecutor role as a way to blame or manipulate others into taking care of them.
Convinced of their intrinsic incompetence, SGVâ€™s live in a perpetual shame spiral, often leading to self abuse. Abuse of drugs, alcohol and food, as well as gambling and out of control spending are just a few of the self defeating behaviors practiced by SGVâ€™s. SGVâ€™s walk around much like the Charlie Brown character, Pig-Pen in his whirlwind of dust, except Victims live in a vortex of shame of their own making. This cloud of defectiveness becomes their total identity.
Linda was the second-born in her family. Almost from birth, she had problems. Linda was a child who was forever in trouble of one sort or another. She struggled academically, was perpetually disruptive and often sick. It came as no surprise to anyone when she got into drugs as a teenager. Her mother, Stella, was a die-hard Rescuer. Convinced of Lindaâ€™s ineptitude and thinking she was being helpful, Stella bailed Linda out every time she got into trouble. By constantly alleviating the natural consequences of Lindaâ€™s choices, Stella's earnest enabling deprived Linda of the opportunity to learn from her mistakes. As a result, Linda came to see herself as increasingly incompetent and grew more dependent on others. Her mother's well-intentioned rescuing sent a crippling message that promoted a life long Victim stance for Linda.
Since SGVâ€™s are often the identified problem in their family, it's natural for them to seek outside professional help first. Often they are dragged to their first counseling session by distressed family members. SGVâ€™s tend to be ever on the look out for yet another Rescuer, and SGRâ€™s abound among helping professionals. In this case, the professional may find themselves inadvertently hooked on the triangle with a practiced, and very convincing, victim. This means the real issue never gets addressed.
Those in primary Victim roles must learn to assume responsibility for themselves and initiate self-care, rather than look outside themselves for a savior. They must challenge the ingrained belief that they can't take care of themselves if they are to escape the triangle. Instead of seeing themselves as powerless, they must acknowledge their problem solving as well as their leadership capabilities.
For it is true that no matter who may try to â€śsave usâ€ť, as a SGVâ€™s - no matter how much money they give or how sincere our intentions to â€śdo betterâ€ť may be, playing the part of victim always leads to only one place - straight back to Victim. Itâ€™s an endless cycle of feeling defeated and worthless. There is no escape except to take total responsibility for our own feelings, thoughts and reactions.
What they call you is one thing.
What you answer to is something else.