Hardship is part of everyday life: frustration at work or school, the stress of looming deadlines, difficulty with friendships, coworkers, and partners, to mention only a few. Many find ways to cope with everyday difficulties like these through venting or prayer or meditation. However, there are some hardships that go far beyond being fixed by these types of coping mechanisms. Those who are victums of horrendous crimes, acts of betrayal, and emotional or physical abuse often deal with the repercussions for years to come. In recent years, characters who are victims have become a staple in movies and TV shows, causing many people to glorify and long to have a victim mentality.

Netflix’s most recent hit, Wednesday (directed by Tim Burton), dives into various traumas of many teens, including the titular character, Wednesday Addams. The show became an instant success, surpassing 1.02 billion viewing hours in the first three weeks, a feat only accomplished by season four of Stranger Things and the popular Squid Game. A spinoff of The Addams Family, the show follows Wednesday as she begins her semester at Nevermore Academy, where a string of gruesome murders have taken place. Her interest piqued, she begins to investigate the killings, forcing her to interact with her peers in ways that, in the beginning, she would prefer to not have to.

From the start of the show, Wednesday shows that she has little care for those around her, a behavior encouraged by her family in Addams-family-esque style. The Addams Family franchise has become widely known for its dark and upside-down humor, which paints being unhappy or having morbid hobbies as being positive. However, Wednesday has taken a more serious spin on the gloomy humor, showing the repercussions of Wednesday’s dark attitude and lack of desire to get along with her peers. Some say that her antisocial behaviors may be coded as Autistic traits, but, regardless of whether or not this is true, she is portrayed as a misunderstood genius who doesn’t have time for the pointless ways of society. However, her behaviors go beyond being just antisocial. She often seems to have a victim mentality, believing that her lack of friendships doesn’t have anything to do with her own actions. She sees everyone else as being the problem and doesn’t realize her mistaken thinking until it is almost too late.

Falling into the Victim Mentality
There has long been a history of true victims not being listened to or believed by society, especially when they are a part of a minority. Recently, there has been a cultural push to correct this discrimination. This is in part why victims have become increasingly central in various media. Where once the heroes of stories were infallible and untouchable, now they are frequently portrayed as victims of one thing or another. In many ways, being a victim is what gives these heroes their true power—whether that is their passion to fight for what is right because of the wrongs they have experienced in their lives, or the power their voice has as a result of being recognized as a victim.

However, the increased acknowledgement of victims going unheard has become a double-edged sword in some ways. In an effort to bring justice, there has been an overcorrection. In an effort to bring justice, there has been a pendulum swing from not believing true victims to believing anyone who says they are a victim without looking into their claims. Even worse, many people who are upset with their position in life have begun to develop a victim mentality. There is a tacit presupposition that if things are working properly, one should never suffer. This is not to say that some of these people are not true victims—but this is the false belief stemming from a victim mentality.

Those with a victim mentality largely see themselves as bystanders in their own lives. The lack of control they feel turns into actively believing that they truly have no control over their lives. This belief often furthers a descent into worse situations. Believing they have no control, they accept the poor situations in which they find themselves, thinking there is no way out—no matter how bad the situation is. People with a victim mentality often fall prey to other people who are positioned to take advantage of them. This mentality, often motivated by bitterness, actually cripples people rather than bringing them any true reprieve (James 3:14-15).

Christ has a completely different view of and for victims, especially those who have experienced true trauma. Not only does Christ promise justice for victims, but he also comforts them and will ultimately wipe away every tear from the eyes of those who come to him (Revelation 21:4). He promises to renew their minds as they go to him everyday (Romans 12:2). Rather than telling victims they shouldn’t suffer, he himself suffered, setting an example for how his followers ought to go through suffering. Paul even goes as far as to say we as Christians are destined for afflictions and persecutions (1 Thessalonians 3:3). Though we may experience those things in this life, Jesus is with us in the midst of the suffering. It is true that there is nothing that can be done about things that have already happened, yet Christ can heal the trauma-wounds left behind (1 Peter 2:24). Healing begins when the wounded make the choice to turn toward the open arms of Jesus

No person who experienced healing by Jesus in the gospels did so without faith (Mark 9:23-24). Unlike a victim mentality, which cripples, having a faith-based mentality brings the opportunity, aid, and ability to overcome what Jesus calls us out of. This idea is different from the idea that God helps those who help themselves. The idea here is that, apart from the grace of God, there is nothing we can do to help ourselves. There are plenty of programs and philosophies about self-improvement that can treat the symptoms and may improve people’s lives, but only God’s grace addresses the root of the problem (Ephesians 4:14). To truly overcome any difficulty, trauma, or mentality—victim or otherwise—in our lives, we must fully rely on him who has overcome sin and death already (1 Corinthians 15:57).

In practice, this looks like putting away the victim mentality that says we have no real control over or responsibility in our lives. Though not everything in life is in our charge, accepting responsibility where appropriate and taking ownership of our lives and the choices we make can help us grow and start us on the path to no longer being a victim. Rather than ‘taking back control’ of our own lives, we need to acknowledge God’s authority and his offer of agency to us. As we grow in our relationship with him through prayer, reading his word, and fellowshipping with others, he will begin to direct our hearts and minds, giving us wisdom to engage in the places where we felt we had no control, offering us new and abundant life (Galatians 2:20John 10:10).

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Rebecca Sachaj

Rebecca Sachaj is enthusiastic about helping fellow believers deepen their relationship with God. After finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing, she pursued further study in Apologetics through The Oxford Center for Christian Apologetics. She plans to obtain her Masters in Apologetics, focusing on the connection between the Christian Imagination and Apologetics. She lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado with her two dogs, Strider and Samwise.