See if you can catch yourself complaining, in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself into a victim. When you speak out, you are in your power. So change the situation by taking action or by speaking out if necessary or possible; leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness.
The guarantee of safety in a battering relationship can never be based upon a promise from the perpetrator, no matter how heartfelt. Rather, it must be based upon the self-protective capability of the victim. Until the victim has developed a detailed and realistic contingency plan and has demonstrated her ability to carry it out, she remains in danger of repeated abuse.
I believed I was too sensitive and weak. To prove I wasn’t a victim anymore, I moved closer to painful experiences rather than away from them. Remaining in harm’s way and exposing myself to more pain kept me in the victim role rather than moving me out of it.
Underlying the attack on psychotherapy, I believe, is a recognition of the potential power of any relationship of witnessing. The consulting room is a privileged space dedicated to memory. Within that space, survivors gain the freedom to know and tell their stories. Even the most private and confidential disclosure of past abuses increases the likelihood of eventual public disclosure. And public disclosure is something that perpetrators are determined to prevent. As in the case of more overtly political crimes, perpetrators will fight tenaciously to ensure that their abuses remain unseen, unacknowledged, and consigned to oblivion.
The dialectic of trauma is playing itself out once again. It is worth remembering that this is not the first time in history that those who have listened closely to trauma survivors have been subject to challenge. Nor will it be the last. In the past few years, many clinicians have had to learn to deal with the same tactics of harassment and intimidation that grassroots advocates for women, children and other oppressed groups have long endured. We, the bystanders, have had to look within ourselves to find some small portion of the courage that victims of violence must muster every day.
Some attacks have been downright silly; many have been quite ugly. Though frightening, these attacks are an implicit tribute to the power of the healing relationship. They remind us that creating a protected space where survivors can speak their truth is an act of liberation. They remind us that bearing witness, even within the confines of that sanctuary, is an act of solidarity. They remind us also that moral neutrality in the conflict between victim and perpetrator is not an option. Like all other bystanders, therapists are sometimes forced to take sides. Those who stand with the victim will inevitably have to face the perpetrator's unmasked fury. For many of us, there can be no greater honor. p.246 - 247 Judith Lewis Herman, M.D. February, 1997
Certainly we struggle as victims of other people’s unkindness. We have been sinned against. But we cannot excuse our sinful responses to others on the grounds of their mistreatment of us. We are responsible for what we do. We are both strugglers and sinners, victims and agents, people who hurt and people who harm.
[Pope] Clement waved his hands in irritation as if to dismiss the very idea. "The world is crumbling into ruin. Armies are marching. Men and women are dying everywhere, in huge numbers. Fields are abandoned and towns deserted. The wrath of the Lord is upon us and He may be intending to destroy the whole of creation. People are without leaders and direction. They want to be given a reason for this, so they can be reassured, so they will return to their prayers and their obiediences. All this is going on, and you are concerned about the safety of two Jews?
She says, "I'll swear by the rose tattooed on my ass, that old man raped me." Here, the funeral parade stops. At this point, Comrade Snarky is a victim among victims. The rest of us — just her supporting cast. Mrs. Clark, leading us, she looks back and says, "He what?" And from behind his camera, Agent Tattletale says, "Me, too. He raped me first." Saint Gut-Free says, "Well what the hell...He poked me, too." As if poor skinny Saint Gut-Free had enough ass left to poke. And Mrs. Clark says, "This is not funny. Not in the least." "Tough," the Matchmaker tells her. "It's wasn't funny, either, when you raped me." Shaking his ponytail, the Duke of Vandals tells the Matchmaker, "You couldn't pay to get raped.
I believe that all people allow the act of victimization to take lead in their lives without realizing or trying to stop it. You hear of another person's problems, automatically feel the need to salve their pain, so you make it your own. After a while, it no longer matters if the problem was yours to begin with. You absorb their pain into your body, your blood stream, your soul. It becomes yours.