Many people are under the assumption that being a target and being a victim are one and the same. However, they’re quite different and have different meanings.
It has been almost six years since the publication of my book, “From Victim to Victor (A Survivor’s True Story of Her Experiences with School Bullying).” Since then, I’ve learned so much and one of the things I’ve learned is the difference between a target and a victim. So, was I ever really a victim? No. I was, however, a target.
Notice the difference in the actual meanings between the terms, “target” and “victim.”
A target is a mark you aim at- as in a shooter aiming his gun at targets at a gun shooting range for practice.
A victim is a person or animal who others kill and sacrifice. When someone is sacrificed, they assume the blame and punishment for the sins and shortcomings of others.
Choose Your Words Carefully
Words have enormous power- more so than most realize. Therefore, I stopped using the word “victim” to describe people others bully and abuse and replaced it with the word, “target.”
Being a target is much more empowering than being a victim. A target can defend themselves. Whereas a victim cannot. A victim is powerless to do anything about their situation. There’s no power nor dignity in being a victim. However, when a person is a target, they maintain some power and dignity. In that, they lessen the impact of the bullying on their mental health.
If we can change the way we view ourselves and see our bullies exactly for who and what they are, they will have little control over us. Moreover, we’re less likely to allow their words and behavior to get into our heads.
A target is a person chosen by bullies to be a perceived enemy to attack. On the other hand, a victim is a person bullies harm, oppress, and destroy.
The word victim says that you don’t stand up for yourself but only capitulate. But the word target says that, although people attack you on a regular basis, you don’t give into fear and stand up for yourself no matter what it may cost you.
Your Choice of Words Can Have Consequences You Don’t Realize
When you view yourself as a victim, you give your bullies exactly what they want- power over your life. You, in essence, surrender yourself to them. Consequently, you will most likely to suffer physical and/or psychological damage.
On the other hand, when you see yourself as a target, you won’t acquiesce, and you’re least likely to take the bully’s behavior personally. Moreover, when you have a target mentality instead of a victim mentality, you buffer your self-esteem from the attacks and salvage your overall mental health. You maintain your personal power. You take control of your life and refuse to allow anyone to make you, their victim.
For example, I’ve witnessed both in movies and in real life, incidences of bullying where the bully would tell the target, “I’m going to make you, my bitch!” In other words, his victim.
This should give you a better understanding of why you should see yourself as a target rather than a victim. Because you are nobody’s bitch! Nope! You’re no bitch at all! You are a fighter, a warrior, a lion!
Realize that your bullies’ goal is to control you. And if you see yourself as a victim, you weaken yourself. Thus, you play right into your bullies’ hands. But when you refuse to become a victim, you refuse to allow them to take control over your life.
You’re a Target, Not a Victim!
It’s not my intention to minimize any suffering you’ve endured at the hands of your bullies. Bullying hurts, no doubt about it! And I feel your pain. So, know that everything you’ve gone through is real and your story is valid and worthy of being told and heard.
However, I want you to understand this. If you’re the object of bullying, you are a target, yes, but you don’t have to be a victim.
Think about it, victims accept responsibility for things they have no control over. They take blame for evils they never committed nor took part in. And when they carry these burdens that aren’t theirs to carry, they end up paying debts they don’t owe.
Here’s an example. A bully blames his target for his own anger, insecurity, jealousy, and incompetence. And it comes out in the bully’s behavior when he bullies that person. Then later the bully and others may gaslight the target when he speaks out.
Another example would be that a rapist wants to make their rape target responsible for their own sexual frustration, anger, and hunger for power by raping their target. Then, later, the target is presumed to be at fault for the rapist’s behavior by the defense attorneys in court.
A Target Endures Bullying but Refuses to Become a Victim
Sure, people hurl blame at targets just as they do at victims. However, the difference between a victim and a target is that the victim accepts the blame and blames himself for what happened to him then spirals downhill into depression, regret, and self-hatred. Whereas a target refuses to accept the blame because he knows with every fiber of his being that it is his attackers who are in the wrong.
He sees his attackers for the cowards they are. Therefore, he sees the incessant gaslighting as proof that they’re full of it and are only trying to cover their butts because they’re afraid of exposure. A target refuses to be made a victim!
You see, it’s all in how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves is determined by the inner dialogue we have- the words we use when we think and speak to ourselves. And it can be the difference between living in a hell of depression and self-loathing or enjoying a heaven of self-love and acceptance and refusing to be destroyed despite the attacks and pain bullies inflict.
So, see yourself as a target but never a victim!
With knowledge comes empowerment!
8 thoughts on “Being a Target versus Being a Victim”
WoW! So inspiring! Thank you!!!
You’re very welcome, Nikki! And thank you! 😊 💖
So very true! The words we use when we speak to others and to ourselves do matter. They do have tremendous power. Years ago I held onto “victimhood” feeling very betrayed by those who were supposed to love and care for me. My victimhood became part of my identity. I was “a victim of abuse” were how I’d describe myself when the subject came up.
Unfortunately, holding onto victimhood interferes with being able to heal and to move forward. When I changed the words I used to describe myself and how I spoke to myself, I was amazed at how my anxiety and depression levels went waaaaay down!
Words ARE very powerful!
Thank you so much, Tamara! 💖 And you did the right thing for yourself, sweetie! And the same thing happened to me when I changed the words. I felt so empowered!
The problem was that I did see myself as a victim for a long time. I wish I had this knowledge a long time ago.
I did too, sadly, Michael. For years. Like you, I wish I’d known better too.