Have you ever encountered someone who thinks everything goes wrong for them? During conversations, they frequently paint themselves as a victim in a world that continually takes advantage of them. When they discuss their problems, they often blame other people and avoid taking personal responsibility. People who frequently complain and undermine themselves may have a victim complex.
The victim complex is a condition in which a person feels like they are a victim, even when there is no obvious reason to think they are. This can lead to a tendency to blame others for things that are not their fault and to feel like the world is out to get them. This can make it difficult to have a healthy relationship with the person and can even make them more likely to become a victim in the future.
In this article, we will dive deeper into what victim complex is, what the signs are, and what you can do about it if you see it in someone else.
What Is Victimization?
Having a victim complex means feeling like you are a perpetual victim in your relationships and experiences in life. It causes a person to feel like everything happens to them, make excuses when things go wrong, and feel a lack of control in their lives. While most of us experience this at some point, those with victim complexes feel victimized more often and more severely than the average person.
It’s important to understand that having a victim complex is distinct from being an actual victim or experiencing trauma. Survivors of traumatic events, in general, do not possess the victimhood trait. Survivors of trauma, in general, do not feel that their tragedy defines them, nor do they view themselves as a part of their unpleasant experiences.
Someone with a victim complex may incorrectly generalize that the world is against them, but real societal injustices are much different. People in marginalized, oppressed groups are aware of the fact that their entire group is being oppressed rather than just them, in contrast to those with victim complexes, who resist change. People who have been systematically oppressed share their personal experiences to effect change, unlike those with victim complexes, who are often reluctant to change.
People with victim complexes are unable to take responsibility for their own contributions to difficulties or disputes. They are exclusively concerned with themselves and their own issues.
Having a victim mentality is defined by the belief that life is controlling you rather than you controlling your life.
The Signs of a Victim Complex
#1: They obsess about terrible times
People with a victim complex often have difficulty remembering positive and productive times. Instead of recalling productive and positive times, they fixate on old memories that brought them harm and distress, replaying them repeatedly. This habit keeps them mired in an unhelpful and unhealthy thought pattern that keeps them tied to the past.
#2: They make excuses for their blunders
When things go wrong, they do not take responsibility for their part. As a rule, they will blame others or make excuses for why they were not responsible for what happened. When retelling stories or mentioning others, they often portray themselves as a helpless individual with the best intentions and everyone else as malicious.
#3: They are never at fault
Usually, it is difficult for someone with a victim complex to take charge of their own lives, which perpetuates their victimization. Something invariably goes awry for them, which is normally someone else’s fault.
They blame their boss for everything that goes wrong at work, or they complain about their ex for hours after a breakup. They see themselves as a helpless victim and everyone else as a perpetrator.
#4: They are rarely accountable
Whether they are receiving feedback at work or fighting with a friend, victims are incapable of recognizing how they may have contributed. They focus on what was negatively done to them in the scenario, regardless of the situation. It’s always about the other individual and how they are attempting to hurt them.
#5: They dominate the discussion
When you encounter them, most of the discussion is about the victim’s life and what they are experiencing. The victim may be so focused on their own problems that they are unable to care about or sympathize with yours, resulting in an imbalanced, one-sided relationship.
#6: People want to be right
It’s difficult to view someone as completely right or wrong in conflicts because life is rarely black and white. There are always learning and gray areas to navigate on both sides.
People with a victim complex cannot see the fine distinctions in certain situations because they are so focused on their perspective. They usually see themselves as ‘good’, ‘righteous’, ‘very conscious and spiritual’, or “loving and kind’ and view other individuals as ‘evil’, ‘wicked’, ‘unawakened, non-spiritual’, or ‘ungrateful’.
No matter what, in every situation, the victim was pushed around. People’s roles, expectations, and emotions feel absolute.
#7: They are stubborn
If someone has a victim complex, they will not be able to acknowledge the pain of others or how their actions have negatively affected others. However, being able to let go of a situation with gratitude, peace, and acceptance requires seeing the situation for what it is and recognizing how you may do better in future situations.
#8: They’re extremely untrusting and suspicious
A victim mentality is characterized by egoism, social mistrust, and paranoia about interpersonal and social dynamics, making them eager to see injustice in almost anything.
#9: They are not seeking solutions forward
When you try to talk to them about their issues, they are not interested in troubleshooting or finding a way out of their victim mindset. They complain about these situations because they perceive little chance of altering them as if they had no control over them.
It’s also vital for victims to inform others about the ways they’ve been exploited or taken advantage of. Since the victim strongly identifies with the victim role, he or she rarely takes an empowered stance for their behavior or cognitive distortions.
What is the Root of the Victim Complex?
It can be an attractive option for those who don’t want to be on the hook for their behavior if they become victims, generally speaking.
A victim complex is the result of enduring certain hardships, but people who have this complex also have developed a deep level of sensitivity to others’ suffering. According to research published in 2015, there are five factors that contribute to this victim mentality.
#1: Being victimized early on
A victim complex can result from being raised in a dysfunctional environment where they were either subjected to or observed emotional, physical abuse, betrayal of trust, or social rejection. This adversely affected their social behavior development and their ability to co-create loving connections. They were incapable of seeing other people’s inherent integrity and benevolence, which would negatively affect their view of the world.
#2: Breaching someone’s confidence
They were not able to live in a world where people were seen as honest, reliable, and stable. Since childhood, people with a victim complex have been violated and therefore unable to trust. They became keenly aware of feelings of helplessness, moral anger, disappointment, and rage as a result of which they defended themselves against exploitation and being controlled. Anger is fleeting for some individuals, but those who are sensitive to victimization feel it for a long time.
#3: The want of being hurt
When a victim complex becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy over time, the victim complex becomes a coping mechanism to avoid difficult situations and keep them away. Because they anticipate non-cooperation from others, they enter situations uncooperatively and are less willing to help others who might need assistance. People with a victim complex were also found to be more likely to foster feelings of jealousy, envy, and were less willing to accept apologies from their partners.
#4: The fear of being taken advantage of
Seeing someone act unfairly or behave selfishly can be disheartening. Seeing a person act aggressively or destructively in response to signs of exploitation is so aversive that victims of victim sensitivity are likely to behave in the same manner. Their actions are reactionary in order to avoid being victimized.
#5: Having a negative inner monologue
Having a firm, unwavering sense of self allows you to move through life with ease. A victim complex is often associated with a negative self-perception. They often think of themselves as fragile, unlucky, hypersensitive, an easy victim for bullies, or prey for bad behavior, for example.
#6: Personality trait
The victim complex can be a personality trait, a core element of a person’s identity, since it is supported by their developmental and cognitive processes.
How to Handle People With Victim Complexes?
There are several ways to handle people with victim complexes:
#1: Make sure you establish firm boundaries
Setting healthy boundaries in your interactions with someone who has a victim complex is important while also reminding them of their own power and supporting and believing in them to handle the situation.
#2: Pay attention to how you interact with them
At the same time, keep in mind that an excessive amount of attention and sympathy should not be given to victims. While you should be there for them, you should also avoid creating codependency or nurturing black-and-white thinking where there is a clear villain and a powerless victim.
#3: Tell them about their own abilities
Because they fundamentally distrust the world, victim complexes begin. Make sure they look for the silver lining in situations in order to bring levity and sweetness back to how they view things. There are both wonderful and compassionate people in the world, as well as negative ones.
Acknowledge that people have control over how situations develop. However, urge them to consider the possibility that things might also turn out well.
Here are some additional tips for handling someone with a victim complex:
- Be open-minded
- Keep your conversations with them simple and focused
- Be a good listener
- Don’t get dragged into an argument
- Be compassionate and patient
- Don’t take things personally
- Be tolerant of other people’s opinions
- Don’t make assumptions
- Be reflective
- Don’t rush to conclusions
- Be a good communicator
The Bottom Line
It isn’t always simple to hold space for someone with a victim complex. You can help them build a well-balanced perspective by establishing boundaries. It is, however, up to them to move on and let go of old memories at the end of the day.
If you are someone who is sensitive to victimization, realize that self-awareness is the first step toward change. By releasing the compulsion to see yourself as limited, you can build the compassion, self-confidence, and kindness needed to reclaim your story.