Friday, February 22, 2008

Victim Mentality Freedom

VMP. I just learned a new acronym. I always love learning new acronyms. This one sounds like a venereal disease. Actually, it stands for “Victim Mentality Propaganda.”

Now, what’s interesting about this “condition” is that it connects the word “mentality” with “propaganda.” Of course, there are people who are perpetual victims, who blame the world for their problems and take no responsibility for their lives themselves.

But those who WERE victims and have moved beyond it, have a story to tell. That is not propaganda – that is the survivor’s story, the cautionary tale. That is what my memoir is.

Unfortunately VMP comes precariously close to “BVM” or “Blaming the Victim Mentality.” This acronym (I just made it up) came in response to a book called "Blaming the Victim" about women (primarily) who have experienced sexual abuse or domestic violence. It answers the question of “Why didn’t she just leave? No one was putting a gun to her head.” In some cases, there was a gun. In some cases, just the threat of a gun was enough.

I can recall many times in my cult when I was threatened with death, destruction or maiming if I were to leave. I was convinced the devil would take me if I left and yes, I took it very seriously. I was under the thrall of mind control.

It takes a great deal of courage (if not desperation) to finally leave any abusive situation. But psychological or spiritual abuse is the most challenging precisely because there IS no gun. One can argue that “it’s all in your head,” like the “gaslight effect.” (If you’ve never seen the movie “Gaslight,” I highly recommend it.) But that is the essence of mind control – that you think it is all in your mind when it is not. There are outside forces at work.

Healing is a process from victim to survivor to thriver. As a victim, I was stuck in my abusive situation. As a survivor, I excaped. As a thriver, I now live and share what I have learned through VMP -Victim Mentality Freedom. But I am ever mindful of those victims who are still caught in their desctructive webs of abuse and are trying to break free. I pray that my story (not propaganda) may assist them in some small way.


Forsythia said...

A wonderful blog filled with insights that life gives to us as we travel along our paths, aka wisdom.

God is not manipulated by any 'laws' and he is certainly not bound by them either.

For me, the one true secret that most people miss and don't realize exists is the fact that God is God, superior and everlasting and we are subject to Him and His will and doing the 'right thing at the right time' or 'thinking the right thoughts' does not make us exempt from His will...which is not always pleasant.

I was involved in the same group you were from 1975-1989. I got involved in Nassau County, Long Island and left when in San Diego, CA. I still fight to go to church, mentally that is as anything religious brings the trauma to the surface. *sighs* I fight it or suffer through it so my children can go to church and learn about God and Jesus Christ.

Journeying Forward said...

Well Said...

oneperson said...

"It takes a great deal of courage (if not desperation) to finally leave any abusive situation. But psychological or spiritual abuse is the most challenging precisely because there IS no gun."

"Desperation"...a poignant description.

Your statement above brings to mind the abuse of neglect or abandonment. There are no physical bruises. Sometimes there are no leftover emotional bruises in the sense of having been beaten with words. When in that state even a beating is better than nothing; at least one knows s/he exists and matters. (That may sound warped, but sadly it is so.)

And sometimes there are no memories...just a blank slate, "trauma's ash."

It's a step when one can feel anything....pain or joy. At that point there is movement and hopefully one learns and grows as s/he continues to move forward along the path.

Thanks for your blogs...keep at 'em!

Squirrel Fantom said...

I love this blog. My mother used to always scream at me "stop acting like a victim!" She was more on the end of blaming me but she didn't even know that she was right. A few people have abused and even assaulted me through my childhood up until college. Because of my upbringing I had the victim mentality and I didn't know it. As a child, I didn't know any better but as an adult, I couldn't understand how I kept getting into situations like that. But, I am definitely free from that mentality and I'm so happy. Blogs and stories and comments like these help so much in the journey of healing. They are definitely encouraging. I started my own blog last year coming out about this. I just started a new one that's more anonymous so that I could be more honest. I wasn't transparent and honest about a lot of things because I was scared of what the people I knew reading it would think. Thanks so much again. Even to those who leave comments, it really helps a lot.

Billy said...

The "definition" of rape involves the word "involuntary". Thanks to Kristen telling about her experience and having lived through part of what she lived through in The Way and specifically the Way Corps...I understand that this word is applied much too narrowly from the point of view of a victim. Kristen tells about her experience in a cult, but in reading and studying other abuse cases (again, my interest spurred by Kristen's openness), I have seen strikingly similar themes in various other settings, including "mainline" churches, the workplace, sports, and perhaps the most potentially dangerous, the "simple" one-on-one relationship. There is a lot more to being involuntary than muscle, a knife, or the proverbial (or real) gun to the head. That is because abuse is always about control...and if the abuser can exert that control without using the above means, it is a lot easier for HIM. Unfortunately it usually is not easier for the victim to show this in court.

Kristen, I am so glad you have quite a number of friends who were in The Way who understand this. Having been in The Way it is so easy to see this, once one has shaken away any hard headed cobwebs; and that's where the "quite a number" comes from. But a victim in another setting, most notably that one-on-one situation, often will not have those friends, or maybe have friends who do not understand the voluntary/ involuntary question. Anyway, I can see how the benefits of Kristen giving her account can go well beyond TWI world.