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What is the difference between a victim and a survivor? And who will you choose to be?

forgiveness (1)

I like to think of people who come out of sociopathic relationships as survivors not victims. It might appear that the two words are interchangeable. They are not however. There is a big difference.

Whilst everybody who was in a sociopathic relationship was once a victim, some people stay as victims. Others set themselves free and move on to be survivors. This is why I often write about being a survivor, not a victim. It has happened. I cannot change what has happened. I cannot change the situation of what has happened. But I can change me, and I can change my reaction towards it.

What is a victim?

The Oxford English Dictionary (online edition) provides the following definition of victim


  • a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action:victims of domestic violenceearthquake victims
  •  a person who is tricked or duped:the victim of a hoax
  •  a person who has come to feel helpless and passive in the face of misfortune or ill-treatment:I saw myself as a victim[as modifier]:a victim mentality
  •  a living creature killed as a religious sacrifice:sacrificial victims for the ritual festivals


I am sure that all of you will identify with this explaination. Many of you will still be living the nightmare of this definition and are still victims. Whilst many others have been through it, and moved forward towards recovery and to be a survivor.

What is a survivor?


  • a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event in which others have died:he was the sole survivor of the massacre
  •  the remainder of a group of people or things:a survivor from last year’s team
  •  a person who copes well with difficulties in their life:she is a born survivor 


What keeps you as a victim, and what stops you from moving to being a survivor after being a targeted victim?

You will note from the two definitions provided above that one is current the other is past tense. To be able to move forward, and to become a survivor after being a victim, you need to let things go.  You need to realise that it is not your issue. It is not your problem. Whilst the experience might have brought wisdom and also heartache – you do not have to carry this forever (unless you choose to do so).

The importance of forgiveness to move from victim to survivor

The final part of the grieving process is forgiveness. You might never forget. Nobody would expect you to. There is little point in surviving experiences in life, if you cannot remember the lessons that you learned from those experiences.

The first stage of forgiveness is to forgive YOU! You cannot forgive someone else if you cannot forgive yourself. There will always be resentment and the circle of hate will continue. If you hate yourself for what has happened, you will continue to hate your perpetrator.

This is why at the end of many posts, I write ‘love yourself’ this isn’t in terms of narcissism. It is because you need to love yourself. Because you really are worth it – Forgive YOU!! There are many reasons why you can struggle to forgive yourself.

  • Why were you so stupid?
  • Is this all you were worth?
  • Why did this happen to you?
  • Why couldn’t you see this coming?
  • How could someone treat you so badly?
  • Why did you allow the person you were helping to betray and deceive you?
  • Most importantly – why did you put someone else’s needs before yourself (and sometimes your children)

This can be difficult to overcome and to come to terms with. The sociopath, being the master of illusion and deception, further impacts this, by exploiting your weaknesses and making you feel bad about you, they convince you that everything is your fault.

Forgiveness is the key to freedom. You hating the sociopath won’t make them change. To them, it’s not personal. It’s just business. If it wasn’t you, it would be someone else. It really is no reflection on you as a person. It is just the way that they think.

The sociopath would have been that way in the past, and will be the same in the future.  You see they do not love with their heart. They do not think with their heart. They think with their head and fake loving with their heart (this is easy to do without being clouded by emotions) everything is a calculated move.

 Don’t HATE!!

Hate is a negative emotion. It keeps you bound and tied. Whilst it IS normal to hate at first and this is part of the grieving and recovery period (anger) if you are still feeling this way a year later – you are keeping yourself tied to the person. In fact you are keeping yourself in victim mentality.

You see, it really is no reflection of you. As an extreme example: If you were tired of pushing someone in a wheelchair because they had lost their legs and that this impacted on your own freedom to walk – as you were always pushing them – would you blame them and hate yourself for your situation? No you wouldn’t.

As the sociopaths brain is wired differently they cannot:

  • Empathise with your needs
  • Which means they have no comprehension or even care how you feel
  • They do not feel emotions the same – so they have no idea how you feel. It is like a foreign language. To them you are seen as weak (to us this seems cruel) but for them it isn’t, as they have no comprehension how this feels?
  • Inability to put your needs before their own. To  think in this way would be an alien concept
  • They cannot think that they are doing anything wrong either. In their mind, it is your own fault for being so stupid. It doesn’t occur to them that you are not stupid, you were deceived and manipulated – there is a difference!

The sociopath repeats behaviour not to hurt you. It is because their brain is wired differently. They cannot think of anyone else but themselves. It’s selfish. But it is not directed towards hurting you personally. It is just the way that they are. They think differently to you. It is documented that it is not a mental health condition. I think personally it is. As they are consistently restricted from what everyone else enjoys in life. They do not know what this is. Sociopaths only know how to destroy what others have.  Again, this is their problem. Not yours.

You cannot change anybody else – you can only change you!!

In the early stages there is a pain inside of your heart. A pain that cuts like a knife – for the following reasons:

  • You were betrayed  by someone that you trusted
  • That the person you loved – only faked their own love for their own needs
  • You love the illusion of the person that you fell in love with – and want that person back
  • The plans for the future – that you planned will never happen
  • You are given an illusion that all of the above plans will now happen with someone else (reinforcing the feeling that you are not good enough)

You ARE good enough. The sociopath doesn’t have the same mind as you. What has happened to you is not a reflection of your own worth. You couldn’t have made the situation any different to how it was. Nothing you would have done would have changed things.

Most importantly that fake person…. simply didn’t exist. it was a manipulation tactic for the sociopath to get what they wanted. This is painful. It is painful to recognise that not only do these people exist, that they came into your world, and you introduced them to people that were close to you.

Don’t beat yourself up

When you stop beating yourself up, stop reinforcing the sense of worthlessness that the sociopath has impacted on you and your belief in yourself….hopefully you will see the truth. Who they said you were, is in reality NO reflection on you. It was all an illusion.

In fact you don’t have to have anything to do with them. You are not their saviour. You cannot change them. Whilst they CAN modify behaviour if they so choose. They will most likely relapse.

They relapse due to:

  • Lack of long term plans and goals
  • Inability to empathise, therefore an inability to see things from anyone else’s perception than their own
  • Sociopaths display a victim mentality where they believe they are the ones who have been wronged
  • Try to see that their problems are NOT your issues! It doesn’t belong to you.

Move from victim to survivor

Realise that this is their issue. It is their problem, not yours. You now have the opportunity to rebuild your life. But you don’t really have to rebuild you. What you want is to find yourself again. To undo all of the psychological damage that has been done to you.

You need to stop hating. It won’t get you anywhere and will only keep you attached to the socio in a negative way. It shows that they have really impacted your life.

The best revenge is living well.

You CAN do this.

It IS NORMAL to hate and to feel anger as part of the healing and recovery process. Try not to stay in that hate. Do not become the shell that the sociopath made you. You are a person that is capable of empathy. Whilst you might feel angered that that this was abused by the sociopath, it is also healing to recover that part of you again. Just in a removed capacity (establish no contact) its ok to feel pity – after all you have the capacity to love and to feel. They don’t. You are free. You can be in a loving NORMAL relationship.

Their issues and their problems are not yours – so don’t make them so. Don’t make this person change who you are. Find yourself. You’re worth it!!

Find your own reality

You were a person who was whole within your own right before meeting the sociopath. You are still that whole person. it doesn’t matter what the sociopath has done or said. You are still you. Nobody can ever take that away (not without your permission) and even if they do, you can still find that person again.

You might have suffered incredible losses, but you cannot lose yourself. Or, actually you can. But inside of you will be a desire to be yourself again. Who you are is made up of the whole of you. Your own life experiences, people in your life, childhood, family friends, just who YOU are. Whilst the sociopath is expert at twisting your sense of reality and perception of the person that really you are – this can be undone …. by establishing NO CONTACT so that the sense of who you are is no longer manipulated or controlled. This will give you freedom and space to think about you and your needs.

If you continue to have contact the sociopath will continue to manipulate and control you. They do this with everybody. Life is a game.

You really are the winner. Whilst the sociopath will carry on playing this crazy game of manipulation, domination and control – you don’t have to play the game with them. Neither do you have to carry a part of them with you anymore.

Set yourself free…. love yourself…. let it go. Forgive. Never forget the lessons that you have learned. But forgive. Most importantly – FORGIVE YOURSELF… You’re worth it!!


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