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Choosing Not To Be a Victim,
Even When Actually Victimized


Hi Dr. Matt,
My name is Nicole and I’m 29 years old.  I’m married with one child.  We live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I just found your site on the Internet when doing a search for "betrayal."
My mother has been my best friend all my life.  You could say it was “us against the world” for many years.  But recently, the relationship with my mother has been stormy. Over the last couple of years, she has begun to behave erratically.  On more than one occasion, she has “blown up” at me – surprising me completely, and then gone to the family sad, crying and claiming to be victimized — blaming me for the situation.

I was completely shocked that my “best friend” could betray me and then go to the family with such damaging stories about me.
I have worked for my mother on and off for the last few years.  She runs a business here in Baton Rouge. Over the years many cousins and family members have worked there without incident; however, there have been a few incidents at work where tension got high, but the employees moved through them, mostly by surrendering to whatever the “boss” wanted.  She likes that. 
Six weeks ago, I was at the office.  My desk is located in a room where all the general files are kept. So, often there are other employees that come in my office area. On this particular day, when I walked into my office area, to my surprise, many employees were grouped in there, loudly complaining about the day they’d had.  I sat down at my desk, but quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to work in this situation.  I stood up and asked, “Would you guys mind taking this to the other room?”  It seemed like a completely reasonable question for a professional situation.  What happened next traumatized me so much, it still cycles around and around in my mind to this day.
My mother wheeled around and started screaming, “I am the BOSS!  This is MY office!  I can be wherever I want!”  I was so shocked that I didn’t know what just hit me.  I quietly said, “Well…. I have work to do in here.”  To which my mother replied, “WE have work to do too!  We can be where ever we want!  This is MY OFFICE!” These words were SCREAMED at me in a frenzy. 

I picked up my lunch and began to walk out into the hall, and quietly replied, “Fine, I’ll go eat my lunch in another room until you’re done in here.” I was very quiet because I was shaking and afraid.  Then my mom walked after me continuing with the same perplexing statements, “This is MY office!  I’m the BOSS!"

 I was very afraid of her at this point, as she was not allowing me to exit the situation.  I walked down the hall, as she was on my heels, still screaming at me, and I very quietly said, “f__ you.”  What I meant by that was really just “leave me alone!”  To this my mother said, “You don’t get to say that to me at the office, you’re FIRED!” (So, she was allowed to attack me, but I wasn’t allowed to defend myself.)  After that I never raised my voice, but she screamed at me for the next 15 minutes saying, “GET OUT!  GET OOOOOUUUUUUUUTTTTT! I'm the only person who matters in this office!  I am the BOSS!!!  GET OUT!!  Get OUT!!!" 
Dr. Matt, your book talks about how the betrayer will tell a story over and over again, day in and day out, and this is a sign that will show that person is somehow hiding a lie.  You talk about how the story will sprawl on, and will contain Justification, Accusation and Resentment.  I do not know what kind of stories my mother has been telling about me, but I do know that none of my family will speak to me, so she must be telling them something that has caused them to doubt my moral character, and blame me for the incident.
The point I am more interested in, though, is the fact that I have been able to do little else besides sit at home and re-live the story, telling and re-telling it to my husband and my therapist again and again.  According to your “Tell-Tale Signs of Betrayal,” this would indicate that I am in self-betrayal.  Does my continual re-hashing of the story mean I am hiding a lie?

I have searched myself high and low and deep, and the only thing I regret is that I reacted at all.  I wish I’d had the ability to stay calm and not respond with the two words I said. I take responsibility for those two words, and the reason I said them.  But this doesn’t explain why I'm retelling the story over and over again to myself.  In your book, you say this points to my self-betrayal. But I'm wondering if my looping-recycling thoughts are simply a symptom of trauma — like a P.T.S.D. reaction.

I have one more question about the “honest story” you talk about.  I would say that I do not fit the description of the “honest storyteller,” because I am quite agitated, and have a tremendous amount of inner turmoil over what I’ve just experienced. Thank you for taking the time to read my lengthy email.  I appreciate any clarification or feedback.

Related Article: A Perfect Response to Abuse

Dear Nicole:

Yes, the fact that you are hashing and re-hashing the event over and over, points to your personal betrayal of truth; further, you are harboring BRIAR emotions. What we learn from Viktor Frankl's Nazi Death Camp experience is that no one can force you from your inner peace. So as agitated emotions flow from you, . . . this points to your betrayal of truth:

If It Comes Out of You . . . It Is Yours!

When Peaceful Emotions flow from you, this will indicate your inner harmony. Right now you are conflicted. When you are true to your own sense of Truth, this inner conflict will depart.

Though it seems contradictory, it is perfectly possible to feel inner peace even as storms of turmoil swirl outwardly around. This peace is NOT accomplished through a mind trick (telling yourself the reality you want to perceive); No, the peace we all seek will not come via Mind Power. Instead, your inner peace happens through a Change of Heart.

The Principles that I teach call for complete honesty with NO excuses; Principles that require both Victimizer AND Victim to be accountable for every word, thought, feeling, and behavior that falls short of Love. Words, thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that each individual authors — If It Comes Out of You . . . It Is Yours!

Too often, Victims of abuse are excused when harboring hateful, angry or irritated emotions; because they actually have been abused, observers give Victims a "pass" for feeling negative emotions in connection to a Trauma. Though it may not seem like a choice, choosing to harboring negative emotions toward Victimizers or a Victimizing Event . . . is equivalent to Volunteering for Victimhood. Naomi Judd said this about being a Victim:

"You only get to be a victim once. After that, you're a volunteer."

While you may have been Victimized, you need not harbor a Victim's Attitute. Truth is Jesus will not give you a "pass" for harboring negative emotions; instead the Savior extends an invitation to Learn His Ways, Learn how to Love as He Loves. Jesus invites every Victim AND Victimizer to learn of His infinite compassion, and then follow in His steps. If you desire to fulfill the purpose of your creation, you must follow Jesus — the Creator of Heaven and Earth.

Jesus invites you to love those who mistreat you, to do good to them, and to pray for them. Clearly, this invitation is quite contrary to the norms of contemporary society. When victimized, most people seek to "get even" and may seek revenge through legal Law Suits. Victims typically get consumed with Blame towards their Victimizers. Seeking Revenge is average behavior pursued by average people; people who will ultimately reap an average harvest proportionate to the average seeds they sow.

While Victimizers are indeed blame-worthy, yet a compassionate Christlike response invites Victims to leave all judgment with Him. True For-Giveness involves For-Getting, which means For-Going Judgments. When anyone rehearses a traumatic situation over and over, they are neither For-Getting nor For-Going Judgment. This Truth that is hard for most people to understand. One of my mentors explains the meaning of True Forgiveness.

According to your story, it is clear that your mother bears Response-Ability for her own betrayal. Neither You nor your Mother are solely to blame for the mess. Instead both You and your Mother get to own your contributions. And that is easily discerned by answering the question: What Came Out of You? Again, If It Comes Out of You . . . It Is Yours!

Fact is, her betrayal is much larger than yours; nevertheless when you make an accounting before your Creator at the end of mortal life, He will judge you according to your sins. All comparisons to how others behave are irrelevant. You are judged against a Standard that He personally gave you — the laws of love that He has written upon your Heart. This means you are not excused for failures to follow His Clear Invitations, simply because your Mother committed larger sins in comparison.

The fact that your Mother followed you around the office, continuing to berate you, is NOT unusual. Though she may be trying to convince herself otherwise, your Mother knows within her Heart that she completely LOST IT -- she behaved badly. When people make mistakes, there are two basic choices:

         1)  Rationalize away personal Response-Ability and Blame Others.
         2)  Repent of the Mistakes we Make, Own them and Make Amends for them.

When in betrayal, sometimes people try to incite others to also behave badly — Misery Loves Company. This tactic is called Trouble Mongering and has an underlying motive: If your Mother can get you to LOSE IT (like she lost it), then she can feel more justified in her mistreatment of you. Because you didn't lash back at her, this only served to infuriate her more, and this is why she escalated her behavior.

But feeling more justified via logical stories we create in our minds, does not lead to personal peace. The Justification that bring Peace, come only through the Creator. We must live in such a way to receive His Justification: In Changing Your Stripes, I call this "The Only Vote that Counts" (see pages 30 & 216 of Changing Your Stripes).

I've been through similar situations as this, and have responded to the turmoil in ways similar to you: I became consumed with the mistreatment that I went through, I focused upon the abusive actions of those who mistreated me; I wanted justice for their sins, while diminishing mine. And I did reruns of the irritating event over and over, just like you.

In the end, even if our sins are smaller . . . still we must focus upon repenting of every subtle shade of Betrayal that Come out of Us, instead of focusing upon the Betrayals of Others. If we will follow Jesus, we must put our energies into ways we can Love others, even enemies — ways that Lord Jesus has shown by example.

The Creator has intentionally designed a world where people are free to choose: They are free to choose love, and free to choose every option that falls short of love -- even choosing hate, anger, and abuse. The Creator has intentionally designed a mortal world where there is Divine Purpose in the experience of opposition.

Instead of simply passing through our torment and trials, trying to make them go away, we must allow these moments of opposition to pass through us in ways that accomplish the Creator's Divine Design. Viktor Frankl discovered part of the Creator’s Purpose for the experience of suffering. In my book you can read what Frankl learned about suffering in a Nazi Death Camp.

We can gain great perspective by empathetically learning from Frankl, and there are others we can learn from too!

There is a reason why the story of Job is in the Bible: We learn that mortal life necessarily includes enduring abuses and afflictions of every sort. Also from Job's suffering, we learn how to response faithfully to afflictions, responding in ways that fulfill the Creator's Divine Design for mortal life.

There is a reason why the story of Joseph is recorded in the Bible (see Genesis chapters 37, 39-45): That we might learn what God can accomplish through us, even when family members choose to abuse us. Recall that Joseph was cast into a pit and his older brothers plotted to take his life; but he was eventually sold as a slave and soon landed in an Egyptian prison after resisting the sexual advances of his master's wife -- Potiphar's wife. Joseph remained faithful through his afflictions and temptations. The Bible records a promise that is available to all: "because the Lord was with him, and that which he did, the Lord made it to prosper."

Being Faithful is the opposite of Betrayal: It means being True to your personal impressions of Truth, impressions placed there by the Creator. These Inspired Promptings are characterized by a metaphor: The Impressions of the Heart.

Think for a moment about the mistreatment that Jesus suffered, yet no resentful emotions came from Him. He was scourged, most likely with a whip that had sharp objects tied into it, objects intended to tear the flesh. Jesus was beaten with the usual number of blows — 39.

Now consider how Jesus, while hanging painfully upon a cross, instructed the Apostle John to care for His mother, Mary (see John 19:25–27). Consider how in the midst of terrible suffering, Jesus lovingly reassured one of the thieves on the cross, “To day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). Consider Christ's compassionate pleas to the Father: "forgive them; for they know not what they do." (Luke 23:34). Even in the midst of the Savior's enormous affliction, He reached outwardly and compassionately, while lesser beings typically turn inwardly and selfishly — in the face of affliction.

If we will fulfill the Divine Purpose for mortal suffering, we must follow Jesus and His example of Pure Love. While He is God and thus capable of perfect patience and compassion -- even in the face of severe affliction -- yet Jesus offers His omnipotent assistance to us, and through Him all things are possible. Paige, your Savior Jesus will help you respond with Love, amid your unfair abuses.

Your Personal Peace will be found in following Him. Remember, instead of simply passing through torment and trials, trying to push them out of the way, we must allow these moments of opposition to pass through us in ways that fulfill the Creator's Divine Purposes for our mortal existence.

In Changing Your Stripes (page 21), I suggest that Every Pressing Constraint is our Test and our Teacher, instead of just our Tormentor. When we can see the Big Picture of His Divine Purpose, we will opt to allow Afflictions to be our Teacher . . . and thus we pass the Creator's Test.

Dr Matt

Matt Moody, Ph.D.
Social Psychologist

* * * * * * *

The Journey

For this is the Journey that men make:
To find themselves. If they fail in this, it matters little
whatever else they may achieve: Money, Fame, Revenge.
When they end the Journey, they can put them all into
a bin marked “ashes.” They mean nothing.
But if one has found that he has within him
a divine soul, if he has discovered the principles
upon which the fulfillment of that soul is based, and
if he implements those principles, then he has a mansion
within which he can live with dignity
and joy each day of his life.
(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page vi).

Dr. Matt offers telephone counseling that will fix your problems fast!

The Greatest Prize
for Life's labors isn't
in material possessions
or impressive accomplishments,
but in the progress of personal character.
You labor for your own becoming, this is your richest reward.
Who You Become is your greatest possession,
make it your Masterpiece!

(Changing Your Stripes, 2nd Edition, page 274)

The book, "Changing Your Stripes" presents principles for getting out of
the ditch in which you've been dumped (the difficulties of which you are a victim), and
the ditch in which you've jumped (the difficulties for which you volunteer).

"Mastering a challenging situation
is ultimately a matter of
mastering yourself!"

- Matt Moody 

"Changing Your Stripes," teaches you the principles that lead to lasting change,
making you a new kind of creature capable of communicating
with calm, even as storms of contention swirl.

If these principles resonate and ring true,
then . . . this book is for you!

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Social Psychologist & Personal Advisor

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