Self Help Now: A community blog

Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade offers advice for maintaining your mental health.

Don't Blame the Victim But Don't Excuse the Volunteer

Written by Dr. Jacqueline B. Sallade, Community blogger | Jul 9, 2013 9:33 PM

It's popular and politically correct not to blame the victim. Certainly, there is really such a thing as true victimization. Abused children, raped adults, people who survived violent crimes or devastating acts of nature ( like tsunamis and tornadoes) really are victims who require extensive healing and care to overcome trauma. Some are more resilient than others.

However, don't mistake the person who hooks up with someone with ten red flags and knows it and then complains about how awful it is for the same kind of blameless, hapless victim . That person volunteered for their position and can unvolunteer if (s)he wishes. Don't believe that someone who spent his money irrepsonsibly and then complains about poverty is a victim of society or of others who refuse to subsidize him completely. He should have planned for the future and now has to accept some consequences. The same with someone who lets her children misbehave with no training or consequences, watches quietly as her partner runs up debt, or takes on jobs she can't handle. Their are choices and she is responsible.

Someone who smokes while developing lung disease, who eats compulsively while becoming diabetic and obese, who continues a life of alcoholism all the while ruining health and relationships, who ends up in jail for repeated crimes, may be the victim of mental illness, poor choices, bad healthcare guidance, and understandable addiction and temptation--but, really, that person is volunteering for more and more trouble and knows it. People quit and change all the time. It's painful but not as painful as continuing in the same downward spiral. There's a kind of emotinal/mental stupidity which used to be called "neurosis" to which these self-destructive and generally destructive people subscribe.

Yes, some people are victims, but many people who would like to be pitied and taken care of and who will blame others for their fate have made poor choices and need to take responsibility for their situations. Don't patronize them. Respect them enough to expect improvement.

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