What to Do When (Not If) You Are the Victim


1. Face it. Feel it. Don’t minimize or deny it.

Since you have been born into a world populated by sinful, broken people, it is inevitable that you will be sinned against. People can be mean, self-centered, thoughtless, hard-hearted and cruel. They will betray and fail to come through for you in big and small ways throughout your life, sometimes intentionally and sometimes blindly and unintentionally.  Either way, the impact is hurtful.  Your pain is real.  It is not weak or shameful to admit that and feel the hurt and disappointment.  Your pain is an indication that this is not the way that things are supposed to be. You were made for a different world. We all were.

2.  Forgive the offender.

Though this is often not easy, it is a necessary step in healing the wound you have received. Bitterness held on to will only result in more sin and brokenness in a world that already has too much of that. As Christians, we believe that God forgives us for ways we have sinned against and wounded him, our willingness to forgive others is a way of expressing that we deeply value the forgiveness we have received. We turn to God for the power to pass that on to others, aware of our own need for forgiveness and propensity to sin.

3. Take responsibility to overcome evil with good.

This begins within our own hearts when we take responsibility for our own actions and responses to what has happened to us. If someone has the power to make us respond to their failure or evil with more evil, then they have way too much power. We take back our power when we take charge of our own thinking and behavior and purposely choose to respond with something that comes from hearts that want good to prevail.

4. Choose to do good.

What “good” looks like can vary from situation to situation.  Perhaps it looks like offering a kind word or seeking to serve the offender. Maybe it is choosing to overlook a failure or offering understanding and compassion. In other situations, it may mean speaking the truth in love, calling someone out—confrontation in a spirit of seeking reconciliation. Sometimes it means setting strong boundaries, leaving a relationship or even calling the police. It always means seeking the best for others. It often takes thought, counsel and prayer to see what kind of good response is needed in the face of painful offenses.

Without engaging in these four steps we will stay stuck—reacting as a victim. And worse, we will turn into a victimizer. We will pass on to others the pain that has come to us and add to the chaos of a broken world.  However, when we choose to walk the path outlined here, we heal, we grow and we promote the same in others around us.