What is a professional victim?

“Do you believe there are professional victims?” a journalist once asked me.

“Yes.” I said, although I had not really given the matter much thought. It’s been close to a year since that interview and the question has been lodged in the back of my mind.

What is a professional victim? It sounds like someone making money off their story about being victimized, or possibly making money off the stories of other victims. Now, I do not believe it’s wrong for someone, after devoting weeks, months, and possibly years, of writing their story into a book to profit from the fruit of their efforts.

If it helps bring closure for themselves and others, that is for the good. Everyone is entitled to tell their story and draw whatever life lessons they can from it. What happens after the book? Will we be reading any story about how they have overcome adversity and have now embarked on a brand new enterprise? Preferably, one that has nothing to do with being a victim?

What did they pursue before their victimization? Have they discovered what was lost before the terrible events affected their lives?

What if they weren’t pursuing anything? What if they were victimized from the moment they popped out of the womb? If you’re born in America, or anywhere else in the world, chances are you were abused at least once in life. As Bill Maher pointed out, you’re slapped on the ass when you’re born!

What kind of welcome is that? Maybe we all start out abused with the first slap coming from the doctor? If you have nothing to talk about except abuse upon abuse, and that’s your only stock in trade, does that make you a professional victim?

I have met a couple of victims who immediately talk about forming nonprofit organizations. Since nonprofits can be quite profitable, does that make them ‘professional victims’? Do we really need another nonprofit organization?

Normally, I advise against starting organizations. If every victim starts nonprofit organizations, who will be left to join these organizations? We don’t need more organizations. We need more cooperation between existing organizations! That’s difficult since most nonprofits operate like small kingdoms receiving tributes from thankful subjects.

I have attempted to persuade existing child abuse groups to address the subject of clergy or religious abuse. That went over like a lead balloon back in 2006! Most of these organizations, in my view, did not want to look like they were criticizing religions. Other groups, like SNAP, began cropping up to address Catholic abuse and began creating ‘chapters’ like SNAP-BAPTIST to cover other denominations. In time, their influence began to wane as other victims, not feeling like they were being heard, began forming their own groups.

The zenith, for me, was at a convention where I witnessed a SNAP representative pleading that victims not forget those who came before them. Another blogger, not at the convention, complained she was becoming obsolete in the wake of other Facebook groups.

Today, it’s a dog eat dog world if you’re a professional victim. And yet, I’m still not sure what a professional victim is except it’s something you don’t want to become.

So what are the marks of a professional victim?

Is it a person who attempts to make a living out of their victimhood or victimhood of others?

Someone who has absolutely no other sense of self-worth except reveling in victimhood?

Someone so fearful and threatened by other groups or other people addressing the same subject that they invoke territoriality? This manifests itself in blocking those with different viewpoints and opinions on Facebook and webpages.

I’m changing tactics at Christian School Confidential. While others want to focus on the first abusers, I think it’s more valuable to contemplate the question: how do victims become the victimizers? Every abuser starts out as abused before something clicks and they carry out their abuse on others.

A few might be critical of this new path saying I should concentrate on the first abusers. However, as I see more and more ‘advocates’ utilizing the same techniques as those who cover up the deeds of the first abusers, it’s only a matter of time before a major scandal hits and reveals that so-called survivors are just as guilty of covering up the dirt as those fundamentalists they have accused.

If and when that happens, survivor culture might be given a black eye for their own hypocrisy. I say ‘might’ since transparency helps safeguard against such assaults. Thankfully, each new scandal brings a fresh crop of people who can learn from the mistakes of the past. For that reason, in the weeks to come, I will begin a series exploring the history of those who escaped religious abuse and analyze their methods of confronting such abuse. What worked? What did not?

In the meantime, what is a professional victim?

I’ve given my thoughts on the subject.

Anyone else care to comment?

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About dwalker25

Dwayne Walker is a web designer and event promoter in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Posted on September 6, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. As part of healthy recovery, as you pass through the stages of grief and loss, you do have a phase that could be called something of “professional victimhood.” When you work through the rubble to reclaim what you’ve lost so that you can reintegrate the good and transform the bad into motivation for growth, it can be consuming for awhile. But as we heal, we don’t stay in that place on a personal level, even though we might continue be an advocate or activist. I’d feel better about describing THAT aspect of things as “professional survival” as opposed to victim. The latter seems to invite continual abuse or continual grief.

    I approach this topic from an anti-cult perspective which considers the dynamics of manipulation, particularly how groups manipulate members. When we get out, we have to either learn for the first time or reclaim habits of healthy behavior. If we don’t, we tend to continue in the dynamics that were used to control us. We don’t walk away from a high demand group and flip a light switch to turn off our behaviors and our outlook. It is work to reclaim ourselves and to attain a new level of healthy interaction.

    In the interim, I think that many people take on the professional victim role. I get concerned about the people who remain there, however.

    It might be worth googling Robert Lifton’s dynamics of thought reform or what David Henke described in a different way by noting the dynamics of spiritual abuse. I see these tactics as those of the works of the flesh that manifest in a predictable way, just as Paul taught us to anticipate them in individuals. They are the trappings of human interaction. So whether you call them the works of the flesh or name them as tactics of manipulation in the language of social psychology, the pitfalls all seem to boil down to a couple of common specifics, mainly that the end justifies the means.

    Some people use other crises or the good that they are able to do to help others as a balm to help build themselves up because their experience has made them feel inferior. This is not all that different from how an addict uses a drug. Both are medicating their discomfort with something else. We run into great trouble when we depend on this kind of activity to bolster our self-worth. The people we help or opportunities to help quickly become objects to us because we need them to prop ourselves up. When we do this, we aren’t much different than the people who abused us, using us as objects which they were entitled to use. We can’t let the end justify the means.

    A big tip off that we’ve fallen prey to this pitfall is whether or not we feel threatened if someone else tries to help victims in a different way. To we get aggressive or passive aggressive with our “colaborers,” or do we cheer them on because someone is doing something to help? If you’re more critical than grateful for someone else’s efforts or info, that’s a sign that you might be leaning to hard on what you do to help bolster your sense of who you are. That’s a dangerous thing to do.

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