Many people suffering from drug and alcohol addiction have found that in order to justify their behavior, they must manipulate and control situations and the people around them. Some do this through aggression and violence, while others do it by playing the victim role, and they learn how to play it well. What is The “Victim Role” Have you ever met someone that was convinced that everyone in the world was out to get them and it is always someone else’s fault? That no matter what they did, they would never succeed due to outside circumstances? Playing the victim allows an addict to control and influence the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others. They justify their mental and emotional abuse of others with attention-seeking behavior. Playing the victim is used as a way of coping with situations and controlling the outcomes. The person initially knows that they are being manipulative, but after years of this behavior, they begin to believe they are actually a victim, even though this behavior can be changed, most will not seize the opportunity because they learn to enjoy playing the role and enjoy the attention that it gains them. What Does the Victim Role Look Like? Admittedly, all humans can demonstrate victim traits to varying degrees, a person who lives in the victim role will often exhibit this behavior daily. They manipulate and mentally or physically abuse others, and then place the blame on that person. For example, an abusive husband that beats his wife and claims, ‘It is because I love her so much.” They attempt to control and influence the sympathy of others, in order to gain their compassion and support. For example, A hypochondriac who makes their family feel guilty for not paying enough attention to their countless medical ailments. They surround themselves with disrespectful and unhealthy relationships so they can convince themselves and others of their misfortunes. For example, the woman who jumps from abusive, alcoholic relationships, and complains that there are no good men in the world. They often avoid taking responsibility for their life, and will often try to place the blame on their circumstances. For example, the person that blames their alcoholism and drug addiction on their broken home, alcoholic parent, poor love life, legal issues, etc. Why is it so Easy for Us? As alcoholic addicts, which, I must admit I am wholeheartedly one, we can probably see ourselves or our behavior in at least one of those previous examples. While yes, I now know that my mother being too lenient with me as a child is not the root of my alcoholism, don’t think that I didn’t use it as an excuse to continue my addiction. However, as active, or even inactive alcoholics, we have often learned to train ourselves to think of ourselves as victims, of our circumstances of the people around us, of the government, and of our disease. For so long, so many of us have had to manipulate and connive in order to justify our continued using, that the victim role had become ingrained in us. Since we have successfully used this behavior to our advantage in the past, we tend to fall back into using it in our sober life as well. I would always find myself saying things like, “My halfway house manager has it out for me,” or “If my boss wasn’t such a jerk I would be great at my job,” or even “If he hadn’t treated me this way, I wouldn’t have relapsed.” The saga continues. People felt sorry for me, I got the sympathy I was looking for, and I felt validated in my laziness, even if only for a minute or two until the next thing didn’t go my way and I would have to find someone else to blame. How To Stop the Victim Cycle I think the first time I heard myself say, “Yes, that was my bad, I can own up to that” was after I completed a 4th and 5th step with my sponsor. I had never been able to really see just how large my role was in everything bad that ever happened to me. I never realized that when people had hurt me, or when I didn’t get what I wanted, that for the most part, those things were actually the result of something I had done or said. I realized I had been playing the victim, almost all of my adult life. After my manipulating abilities ran out, and I found myself alone and addicted to a handful of different types of drugs, I found myself in the rooms of AA, working a 12 step program. I was given the tools I needed to stop playing the victim, and to start being a responsible adult. Once we are finally willing to make the change, kick our addiction, and become new people, we find that living as a victim doesn’t carry the same validation it once did. The 12 steps were the only thing that had ever shown me my true nature. Getting Help At Wayside House If you are a woman struggling with addiction, Wayside House can help. We offer a women-only program and provide a safe, supportive environment to recover in. We have outstanding treatments and therapies that are often only found in more expensive programs. We offer inpatient rehab with various therapies, relapse prevention education, outpatient, and aftercare. Contact Wayside House at 561-278-0055 to learn more.