Victim? Or Volunteer?

In my early adulthood, I was an avid fan of Montel Williams’ talk show. (Yes, that shows my age. And if you don’t know who Montel Williams is, google him!) I liked the way he presented himself as very compassionate yet unwilling to take excuses from people for their behavior. He was a lot like Dr. Phil is today, though I think Dr. Phil can be a little too terse and impatient with some of this guests.

Anyhow, one day when I was watching Montel’s show, he was interviewing women who were currently in abusive relationships. He allowed each to tell a little bit of detail about their relationships and gave them the opportunity to share their excuses why they hadn’t left – or kept going back. They all told their stories as the victim – but for whatever reason they stayed or went back.

After a break, Montel opened up to comments from the audience. One woman stood up and said, “When something bad happens to you, you are a victim. But when you go back time and again knowing that the same thing is going to happen to you time and again, you are not a victim. You are a volunteer.” That statement hit me right in the face. Not for any personal reasons, but simply hearing those words made me stop, think and then consider how much of my sympathy these women truly deserved… and more so if they had managed to actually get away and then chose to go back!

We all stay in relationships that are unhealthy for us on a variety of levels. I’ve been guilty of that with some of the people in my life. Many of us stay because the relationship is a matter of convenience or because ‘the devil that we know is better than the devil that we don’t know’. Men who are still in the prime of sexual desire and need will often have a woman in their lives whom they tolerate in return for that need getting met. She may have no other desirable qualities, but that need gets met. Women will often have a man in her life with whom she has sex because he is emotionally present, attentive and cares for her – at least during the times they are having sex. Both get their basic needs met, but neither can say the relationship brings joy to their lives as a whole.

If you choose to be in that kind of relationship – one of convenience – then you, too, are not a victim but a volunteer. I know several different people in my life who are in relationships of convenience, and that’s their choice, but why do they think they have the right to grumble and moan about it to other people? If, for example, her emotional vomiting whenever you get together bothers you, then stop getting together! Pull up your big boy pants and spend the effort and energy to find someone else! And if, for example, he’s super-present and emotionally supportive when you’re together, but unless you’re together for sex, he doesn’t have time for you, pull up your big girl panties and spend the effort and energy to find someone who will!

So, if you stay in a relationship that is abusive or simply lacks satisfaction and do nothing about it, again, that’s your choice and your right to choose. What you don’t have a right to is playing the victim card!

If you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always gotten.

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