“Oh,” I replied, feeling a cold chill run down my spine. He continues speaking so casually that if I had not known better, I would have thought we were talking about the weather.
“Vics are easy prey. There’s little risk. They won’t fight back. You can take what you want and leave without a second thought of being caught.”
After working several months with homeless men in the busy downtown of a large metropolitan area, I, too, easily could pick out the “vics.” It could not have been any more obvious if there had been a flashing neon sign on their foreheads. Unlike many of the homeless men I had come to know through this work, I viewed these “vics” not as opportunities, but with sadness.
Years have come and gone since working with that population and many memories have faded. What remains clear is what it takes to be a “vic,” or a victim. My work with victims certainly didn’t end with the homeless. I have met them in every arena of life and still can read them with ease.
Recently a young woman who has endured several victimizations wearily asked me if there was any way that the victim sign on her head might be erased. I sadly shook my head. “Unfortunately,” I explained, “it’s not that easy. For that sign to be removed you must go through radical surgery.”
Then with an encouraging note, I let her know that this surgery was well worth it. “Without surgery, I’m afraid that you will struggle with being a victim all of your life and, unfortunately, victims never, ever get well.
“Why?” she asked in confusion.
“As long as you are a victim, you’ll never take the responsibility to do the things that make you well. Part of being a victim is that you let others control, ruin, destroy your life. You allow them to use you for personal gain and when they are through, they discard you.” For effect, I wadded up a piece of paper and tossed it into the trash.
She got the message. A timid smile slowly crept across her face. “When can I set up a time for that surgery?”
If you or someone you know may be in need of this surgery, a word of caution. This is an aggressive surgery that radically changes how you carry yourself, how you look at others, what you expect and get out of life. This surgery is designed to remove overwhelming feelings of shame and guilt, isolation from a good support system, an inability to trust others, a consistently chaotic lifestyle, unprovoked expressions of rage, and even suicidal thoughts and feelings.
The benefits are many. After you have fully healed from this surgery, you can expect to discover a new sense of meaning and purpose in life. Also, anticipate better judgment that will affect the type of relationships you will have both with yourself and others. Because you feel much better about who you are, you will find yourself setting appropriate limits that protect your continued health.
Perhaps, best of all, you will find yourself walking down the street with your head held high, a confidence in your step, and a respect for yourself that communicates that you are one who cannot and will not be taken advantage of. What you give and what you take are your choices, not the choice of some lowlife who wants to suck the life out of you.