What is a Victim Mentality?

A victim mentality is a state of mind a person can often find himself in after dealing with abuse or unfortunate events. This state of mind typically causes a person to believe that he has little control over his life and that the events that occur are the result of what someone else does. While there is legitimacy to the fact that some things that happen in a person’s life are due to the actions of someone else, this type of thinking usually broadens that perception well beyond what is reasonable. A victim mentality can often make it difficult for a person to move forward in his life and may cause a number of secondary issues as well.
While a victim mentality can manifest differently for each person, in general it is a state of mind in which a person typically puts responsibility for what occurs in his life onto someone else. This is often caused by abuse or tragedy in a person’s life that causes him to feel a lack of control. Someone physically or emotionally abused as a child, for example, feels powerless to stop the abuse as a child, and once an adult may continue to feel that type of powerlessness through a victim mentality.
It is important to note that a victim mentality develops after abuse or tragedy has struck, but continues into normal or healthy life. Someone who is a victim of abuse, but is no longer in an abusive situation, may blame his abuser for a speeding ticket he receives, rather than accepting responsibility for driving too fast. Other problems that occur, such as getting sick, children behaving inappropriately, losing a job, and a relationship ending will all typically be blamed on someone else. When someone has a victim mentality, he cannot take responsibility for what occurs.
This type of victim mentality typically stems from actual helplessness, such as the loss of a loved one due to a natural disaster or act of violence that was beyond a person’s control. The extension of that helplessness into other parts of a person’s life, however, can be extremely damaging and make it difficult for the person to move beyond the events that caused the victim mentality. One of the first steps many people must take to break free of this mentality is to forgive the source of the abuse or tragedy and to forgive himself for not being able to stop it. This can help a person begin to move past what occurred and to start to see how he can take control over what is happening in his life.