Yeah, not my type

You know the type.

The type who is the perpetual victim, the type who is never responsible for anything because they are a victim. Oh sure, now and then they'll say they know they're imperfect, that they know they can be a bitch or an asshole, but they aren't truly sorry. They believe, being a victim, they're entitled to behave in any old way they feel like behaving. Something bad happened to me once, now you must all forever walk on eggshells around me. You must agree with everything I say. You must acknowledge my pain daily, cheer me when I lash out.

The type who tries to zero in on their perceived enemies' vulnerabilities, tries to manipulate and shame. Hit 'em where it hurts, or at least try. This type tries to get others to jump on the bandwagon by reminding them that they too are victims, that it's a shared enemy, that if you want to love me, you must hate and be hateful to those that I hate. You must never think for yourself, you must worship at the altar of my victimhood or be cast out of my circle.

This type never sincerely apologizes. How could they? They never think they've done anything to apologize for and if they have done something unkind or uncalled for, they are to be excused because they are victims and have it worse than everyone else. Life is hardest for them. Your feelings, needs, and experiences are unimportant to this type, even the needs of their own children can come second. Oh yes, I've witnessed this with my own eyes. One of the saddest things I've ever seen.

I'm sorry for everyone who has to regularly deal with this type. Nothing you do will ever be good enough, no mistake you've made will ever be forgiven. This type isn't capable of true generosity or compassion, capable of being genuine or grateful. My advice is to work hard against allowing them to poison your life, make you sick. To resist being drawn in by their taunts, their challenges, their attempts to control you, to make you feel badly about yourself and sorry for them.

I wish you the strength to stand up to them when necessary. The strength to say no way, you're wrong and I am not going to let you get away with, or encourage, your damaging, childish, self-absorbed behavior.

If you must cut them loose, do it, and don't let them make you feel bad for doing so. Too little too late and unless they completely own and are sorry for their actions, don't look back because he or she will be right there, planning their attack, figuring out how to draw you back in, trying to make you forget they are a teflon coated victim, make you think that they're just your type.


  1. Wow, this is an excellent post Campbell. I actually know someone in real life who very much feels like a victim and has attached to a person who is exactly like the person you describe in your post. Sadly, this unhealthy relationship that has been established is a barrier to getting much needed help.

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  3. Somehow your tags are telling a familiar story. Hmm, where HAVE I heard it before? In any event, aligning oneself with PV (perpetual victim) is a lost cause. One should know that by now.

  4. Sustainable've said so much. Where to begin? I guess there are two things especially amongst all you've said that stand out to me. First, me in particular coming to your blog to put down research you've been looking into. If in fact I did that, "put down" research that's important to you instead of simply commenting or attempting to discuss it, I am sincerely sorry. Second, I don't hate people for feeling hurt by the experience of adoption and find that a ridiculous thing for you to say and cannot understand why you would.

    For the record, this post isn't about adoption. It's about a type of person that exists not only online but in our everyday lives.

  5. What a wealth of judgement, assumptions and misinformation lie in these comments!!Lack of knowledge too about the experiences of adoptees/fosterees and the attempts made by others to shame, guilt, judge and bully.I get it Campbell having just come through an Inquiry into forced adoption in which some mothers behaved appallingly towards adoptees.
    Sustainable have you tried Narrative Therapy as part of your box of tricks? You'll find the links if you put in a search, it's not cheap to learn but it is effective for many, then you can put your money where your mouth is.

  6. I am very suspicious of wounded innocence. Some people are as slippery as a butcher's prick.

  7. I don't get where Sustainable is coming from at all. There is such a person in my life too, Campbell, and I figured you were drawing on IRL as well as URL experience. After all, you just came back from holiday: hope that person was not lurking to spoil your time there. This is very important information. Do NOT put up with abuse! And do not be "hoovered" back into the person's life. And for those people who think they are living with someone who is genuinely ill, read "Stop Walking on Eggshells". Von, narrative therapy is very helpful. Thanks for mentioning it. And many thanks, Campbell, for this post.

  8. I also did not think that this post was about adoption. Rather, I believed it to be about a type of person who is encountered in all walks of life in both the online and offline world we live in. A post such as this can increase one’s knowledge of resources that carry with them the potential to be helpful for those of us who have had to deal with the personality type described in the post When I was involved in a particular situation, the book “Stop walking on eggshells” was recommended to me by a friend and I found it helpful as a resource.
    @Von - I am so sorry about the inquiry. I didn't know about mothers treating adoptees appallingly. I had falsely assumed that all mothers loved their children and I just couldn't imagine it otherwise. Now I know differently. Last year I purchased the 2002 drama Rabbit-Proof Fence and showed it to my students and they were shocked at the events that took place.

  9. Ah, thank you for clarifying Campbell, I read this as a "adoptees who feel hurt are inherantly manipulative victim complex people" so my plea was simply to not lump every adoptee who feels hurt into a "bad victim mentality adoptee".

    I have just seen so many battles between the happy vs sad adoptees/firstparents and have seen you write about that before so I thought that was what this was stemming from. And I was just thinking, gosh can't we all just support each other in our own ways of coping instead of saying adoptees who feel they have abandonment issues are bad victim mentality people or that adoptees who are happy are bad denial adoptees? Can't we all just cope in different ways without demeaning each other?

    That was where I was coming from and I thank you for clarifying where you were coming from-- I see that I was off base in what I thought you were saying.

    Also, I think the discussion I had with you was not at my blog but elsewhere and it involved maryanne who was the one who came over to my blog, so I think that whole defense was going mostly to the wrong person anyway.

    I think also I've seen you commenting at Iam's blog who has been writing a lot about the big mean adoptees and I feel confused as to what's going on or where these meanies are coming from (do they just turn up out of the blue?). They certainly sound really mean and hurtful, but I think I may be sheltered at this point because I stay at my blog and don't see what the mean adoptees are doing and I don't know if there is a misinterperetation going on or if there really are a bunch of mean adoptees going around being hurtful (which I believe may be the case! i have seen it happen in the past!)

    I just wish that everyone would be kinder and understanding of each other and I wish I could resolve all conflicts everywhere. But seeing as I can't even remember who say what or understand what people's posts are about, I suppose the world understanding each other better will not happen on account of my botched attempts at mutual understanding. : )

    I'm sorry for the miscommunication-- and even in thinking you were angry at the adoptees who believe in the primal wound and therefore have "victim identity" I was actually still trying to reach a place of mutual understanding. Well...trying...

  10. Thanks for that Sustainable Families.

    Anon, no, thankfully my holiday was not spent with that person although I did do that once with them. Once was plenty!

  11. Comments have been removed out of common courtesy and mutual respect and care.

  12. I had a family member who had many of the characteristics you describe.
    Once I was old enough to recognize their behavior as abusive it became easier to cope.
    It almost seemed as if they took a secret pleasure in doing harm. Maybe they felt powerless and blaming and hurting others gave them a feeling of power, but whatever the reason a lot of the damage they caused was far reaching.

  13. Ok now that I'm on track with what this is actually talking about-- an on topic comment:

    Abusive behavior is terrible, terrible to be around. I am so sorry there have been people in your life that have been pulling such head games on you.

    It's especially hard when people abuse others under the guise of having "trauma issues" because it pulls on the heartstrings of people who DO care about trauma issues (which is a large portion of us human beings) and makes it so much harder to see and call out the abuse for what it is. NOT a cry for help or a desire for genuine support but a plain, simple, mean spirited attempt to ensure that one person can control everyone around them for their own personal gain without caring how they hurt others.

    the first relationship I was in involved a lot of these head games "I have been abused so I can't help I'm doing these horrible things to you" and at 16 I had absolutely no internal resources to understand what was happening or come up with a positive solution; i.e. realize that leaving was the only option. He was suicidal and therefore I was very effectively trapped into thinking he literally could not be ok if I left the situation. It was of course made worse by my own internal pain and need for support that I couldn't find any where else and the feeling that he, like myself, just needed love.

    If he had just needed love, he wouldn't have needed to abuse me as well. It's ok to need love. It's not ok to abuse other people. And it's not ok to be become a tyrannt and bend others to your need for love when as humans we all need love and we can find ways of giving and recieving that involve UNMANIPULATED voluntary and mutually beneficial support of each other.

    That was a terrible introduction to romantic relationships and in truth I still find myself working on the issues as a result of it even despite years of therapy and reading and internal work on it. I still find it devastating that he seemed to genuinely in need but attempts at giving him love resulted in him causing so much pain.

  14. She really gets under your skin, doesn't she?

    1. "it involved maryanne who was the one who came over to my blog, so I think that whole defense was going mostly to the wrong person anyway."

      "Sustainable families," since you mentioned me I am replying. First of all I want to apologize to you and anyone else who was hurt by any comments I made anywhere about Primal Wound. I expressed some things badly and hurt people I should not have hurt. There is real pain and trauma in adoption no matter what it is called, and the worst of it falls on adoptees through no fault of their own.

      I DO believe that all adoption involves loss and that many if not most adoptees are hurt by being surrendered and adopted. I have seen and known and loved and been friends with many very wounded and hurt adoptees who have coped with their issues in various ways. If you who feel that pain want to call it the primal wound or anything else, I believe you and honor your suffering and regret and am sorry for any suffering my words have caused any adoptee, and my actions have caused my own son. If I could reverse time and go back and walk out of the hospital with him I would do it in a minute. I apologize, I am so sorry, and I wish all of this could be laid to rest. I am in no way the enemy of adoptees. I am a human being who said some thoughtless snarky words she regrets. A lot has been said about forgiveness here. I extend mine to all and hope some can extend the same to me.

      As to the subject of this post, I had a friend in real life like that whom I finally had to cut ties with, and it was hard and heartbreaking on both sides. But it was what I had to do to stop a vicious cycle that had gone on way too long. Life is too short and full of pain that cannot be avoided to stay in a place of pain one can leave.

  15. You're a class act Maryanne (MAC). I'm so fortunate to have made your online acquaintance and am pleased to think of you as a friend. Thanks for your comment.

  16. Maryanne, in truth I think most of us as human beings do everything we do in response to complex issues. I think our natural state is one of empathy, love and connection-- and for people who are not in that state there is something going on with them that is not working right, whether a false belief system or physical problem or past trauma.

    Even when you said words that I felt shut down what I was trying to say, I understood. You are a mother who lost a child to adoption and in order to keep going you had to shut down your own empathy to your own emotions; I know sometimes there is just not enough time in life to allow the full extent of the pain to be witnessed because it totally f's us up and we cn't function there.

    With normal loss you mourn until you're done and then you're really done! things feel good again! With traumatic loss like losing a living child that you KNOW still exists and that for all time you will still have a certain something within in you that wants to fight all obstacles nd go give them all your love--- you just have to shut it down to function. You can't function from wailing and being sad, or hurting, or aching.

    Which is why when many people shut themselves off from these feelings, they had to kind of be abrupt and insensitive to themselves "HEY! JUST STOP BEING SAD ALREADY THIS IS ANNOYING!"

    And that translates to others who are wanting to express grief for extended periods of time "Just stop it! Jeeze you can just move on and decide to feel joy so just stop with this pain and ouchy!"

    I understand. Really truly. In order to really finish rebuilding our empathy and connection with out own emotions and others, the full process of witnessing our own emotions and resolving the complicated thought processes of what it means to live in a world where terrible things can happen has to be gone through. But in order to function-- we really can't necessarily go through that process and still be neat and tidy and functional. What's more... wallowing is not exactly what resolves the suffering. One has to be present as a witness, whether that witness is your higher self, higher power, or another human being. Falling apart in the suffering without being carried (even if by your own self) will result in terrible things. But allowing yourself to walk through the emotions with supports in place can allow you to walk through to the other side with deeper empathy and acknowledgement of what humans go through--- and how important it is that as human beings we be there for each other. And when we can, provide witness and carry each other through the suffering until we feel truly connected with love and joy.

    Anyways, I'm not now, nor was I then mad at you. I was hurt by your words, but only because I was so excited about the epigenetics and I want people to read about it!!! Will you read about it? Cuz I have these really cool papers I can link you too... what's more you could ask your sciencey husband to read them and tell you what he thinks. There have now been thousands of studies done so a large portion of it is varely basic science, although what it all means is as usual subjective.

    1. Sustainable, thanks for trying to understand, and whatever I said on your blog(I don't keep track of that stuff and not even sure which blog it is) again I am sorry. I hope to be much more careful in the future what I say and where.

      I am just not going to say more on PW or other issues so sensitive to many. BY the way, I am at heart a poet and artist, not a scientist. I too know what I know, that my son is mine, with my genes and his father's, many similar traits and a good heart and creative mind that adoption could not take away.

      You probably don't know my story, but I was never really in the closet, never shut my son out of my heart or life, and was literally the "Queen of Gloom" for many, many years. My problem was not one of repressing or denying the pain, although for many mothers that is a major issue. Not that I am better or smarter or healthier, just emotionally different in that I could never shut any of it out or away and pretend it never happened. We all deal with the pain of surrender in our own ways, some work better than others. I was in support groups since they began in the 70s, helping others and trying to help myself. It is so easy to be flippant and "clever" in blog comments, but that is never the whole picture of anybody.

      I searched for and found my son as a young child, contacted him at 16, but for almost 20 years he had no interest. I felt rejected and quite hopeless. Since he has been communicating with me I no longer feel that he is lost forever, but that he is found, that we are connected, that he has survived a bad adoption, that whatever scars he has sustained he is making the best of his life now. That is what I am trying to do as well. I can only say what I feel, what I have experienced, not tell anyone else what they should feel or do or how they should deal with their reunion. I have finally found some peace, which has not made all the pain of the past disappear, but has injected a small ray of hope, a candle in the dark.

      For all of us, it a long, hard road which in the end we each must walk in our own way. The support of friends is vital, and helps so much, so I do appreciate your trying to understand.

  17. Maryanne, I’d like to second what Campbell said. You are a class act and have done so much good for the adoption reform movement that it would literally take Campbell dozens of posts to capture it all. And I, too, am glad to have you as a friend in my life. And while yes, you may have said some words you regret, as I suspect we all have at one time or another, I can’t ever recall a time when you were mean or vindictive. On the other hand, I do recall that whenever I needed words of wisdom, you have been right there for me. In the early years of my reunion, and even prior to my reunion, I recall how precious those four annual issues of the Origins newsletter that you published were to me. They were literally my lifeline to other mothers like me because resources back then were so scarce. As soon as an issue arrived at my house, I stopped whatever I was in the midst of doing and read it in its entirety. Then, while waiting for the next one, I would reread the current one again and again. Your words, and the words of so many other mothers, spoke to the shared pain we had over the loss of our children. It was a pain that only mothers of adoption loss could feel. Perhaps you remember writing this excerpt:
    She said, “put all your pain in a story, and change the end,
    to make it glad, to hear the white bird sing
    and I put all my pain in a story, and changed the end –
    but no birds sang except the raven’s scream, owl’s cry
    You cannot erase the past, they said—you cannot write away
    your pain
    I thank you from my heart for helping me and all the other mothers when we were so alone out there connected only by snail mail.

  18. Thank you Gail. That was not only lovely but very enlightening. Really, thanks so much for that.

  19. Geeze Maryanne, how come I didn't hear you making those kinds of supportive words? I seemed to only run into you when you were saying you used to be in pain but realized you could just stop and have moved on and people that are still in pain need to just stop already. I have to see my daughter every month and I see my biological parents different families and there is so much ache and so much ongoing-- going to my half brothers wedding and looking through a photo book with a lifetime of pictures I wasn't in. Being asked to wait by myself while they took "family photos" Listening to my daughter ask me why she can't come live me, or just try it for a week just to see what it's like... and knowing I am just not allowed to tell her I want her to and YES! COME! Because I have to be the Good Birthmother and remind her she is so lucky where she is and she is with her REAL MOTHER which is not me... I just hate all of this and it's not IN the past, it's the present so it frustrates me when people say you need to put adoption related pain in the past. It's not even in the past!

    LOL Campbell I think this post may have turned into the Breakfast Club. (ahem cough...myfault..cough) :P

    Is this the sort of conversation where we can all have milkshakes and giggle afterward? Or at least chocolate milk? I'm having chocolate milk.

    1. Your situation and mine are very different. I did not mean to imply by telling my story that I was criticizing you or anyone else with a very different story, situation, and reactions. It sounds like you are an adoptee and also gave up a child, and indeed you are dealing with a lot of pain in the present, not the past. I feel bad for you, that has to be incredibly hard.My story and my feelings are only about me, not about every mother or adoptee, and are not meant to be critical of how any other mother deals with her own pain and individual situation.

      The newsletter Gail mentions was written many years ago during the long years my son was not communicating with me and I felt utterly rejected. For me, that changed. It does not change for everyone and I never thought it could.

  20. Maryanne wrote:" If you who feel that pain want to call it the primal wound or anything else, I believe you and honor your suffering and regret and am sorry for any suffering my words have caused any adoptee..."

    I thank you for this and for the rest of your comment of 11:59 a.m. I am sure that if life could give you a re-do you would have never let your son go.

    1. Thank you, Robin. We may not always agree, but coming from you these kind words mean a lot. Not having the same opinion on every subject should not make us enemies.

  21. I am sure we've all had to deal with people like this at some time in our lives. The worst is when these people are pathologically vindictive as well as narcissistic. The best thing to do, unless they are part of your family, is to forgive but studiously ignore. You can't help them. They are insatiable and will suck you dry.
    Once they recognize that they are never going to get what they are looking for, they will find someone else on whom to focus their obsessive malice.

    It is more difficult if they are "one of your own", such as a dependent relative. Then they need to be forced to respect their place in the broader relationship. Do so by whatever means necessary, even if it has to be by threatening withdrawal of support. Fear and self-interest are the nearest people like this get to understanding respect.

  22. Campbell, I am looking at the tags you assigned to this post:

    bullies, control, it feels so good to make you feel bad, me me me, perpetual victims, poor me

    If all you had written were those tags, I could close my eyes and form a mental picture of the type of person you were describing. Great descriptors. And the pairing of "bullies" and "perpetual victims" is so insightful. I've seen this type of person in a variety of settings. Probably IRL more than URL.

  23. I've actuallly been being 'courted' by my IRL person (well, one of them, I have two that are severe and one I warned to only speak to me if absolutely necessary) of this type over the past few days. In fact, when I thanked her for her kindness as of late, she professed to be starting to "get it" now, that she is changing. It would be great if true, but I won't hold my breath, wont be sucked in ever again. I'll be civil when she is and cooperate in communicating because I have to be but that's it.

  24. WantsHillTo RunAgainJanuary 18, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Whoever: great comment. The pathologically vindictive are an especially thorny variety to deal with. Because they will not "let go" you have to. Once you do, you'll find you saved yourself. Forgiveness almost helps you more than it helps the other guy. The PV in my life is neither the narcisstic nor the vindictive type but like Megan I have seen these types online. It's usually lots of sheep lining up behind one or two nasties. Narcissists have the trick up their sleeve of making other people feel privilged to be around them.

    1. @Whoever and Wants Hill... very well said , I so agree, like Campbell Youve hit the nail on the head!

  25. Campbell, very well said, and yes I have met many many people like this , You described them to a T, Luckily I havent met them in my every day life, but right here on facebook, Ive met more than I wished to...the unfortunate thing is they either dont realize they are being like that or they dont care, they seem to enjoy being that way. Its just sad people think its ok to treat people like that.

  26. Just another thought. The people who live with perpetual victims and enable them cause as much damage as the victims themselves. It's interesting to witness the obvious enabling that occurs when one of these types quotes the hubs or boyfriend (sorry, the trauma queens are usually female) stoutly defending their POV, quoting them as being supportive and realizing the "obvious," that only the brain-dead would be so "stupid" as to disagree with the victim. You can practically smell the emotional blackmail. I feel sorry for perpetually angry and victimized because they usually have some underlying disease or addiction. But I do not feel sorry for their enabler-cheerleaders.

  27. Ah yes, the enablers. Can't say I agree that they cause as much damage as the victim. That's not been my experience. I do only feel sorry for them for only so long though.

    The "type" we're talking about here can be very attractive initially, be expert in fooling their enablers, repeatedly, partly I suppose because the enabler just keeps wanting that type to be different, stop doing what they do. Many times the enablers' families are like, "WTF do you see in this demanding and manipulative person?!" Love can be blind.

    The way I've seen it go is the enabler is drawn in and initially is a staunch supporter and defender of our victim. Eventually, though, it seems to me the enabler goes into eye roll mode, behaving as the victim would expect them to when they're around but in reality are no longer cool with the tantrums, demands and abuse they're handed, sometimes daily. The enabler scurries about trying to please their victim and thwart tantrums. They may remain with our victim type (hard to understand why) and agree, defend, and pretend to realize the "obvious" but in fact they really don't anymore and act entirely different when the victim isn't around. I've witnessed this happen over and over. Of course, one has to be careful when lending an ear to the enabler because they have a tendency to do want to do whatever is necessary to get in the good graces of their perpetual victim and if that means throwing their own support under the bus, they'll sometimes do it, just to see a smile on their poor little girl's face and prove their dedication. Or, it's just an attempt to redirect the wrath of their victim elsewhere. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

    I too feel sorry for people who have a disease or addiction but I also feel sorry for their enablers, for a period of time anyway. Sometimes people just don't know what they're getting into, are perhaps blinded by the fun, easy side of our perpetually wounded type, which, by the way, is made even worse when our victim is above average in the looks department.

  28. Thanks for this post. I ousted such a person from my life over a year ago and am still wracked with guilt every time I think about my ex-friend.

  29. That's not good, An.

    Are things worse without your friend? The idea is to protect yourself, not sentence yourself to years of guilt and/or regret. Do you really have something to feel guilty about? Is doing something healthy or right for yourself, treating yourself well, something to feel guilt over?

    If so, that cant be good, can it?

    1. I would never consider being friends with her again, but we were close for 10 years and talked every day. She could be fun to talk to at times.

      I feel guilty because I was her only good friend. Yes, there is a reason she didn't have other good friends, but I still felt bad about taking away her only support system (me). She wasn't evil or manipulative, just a heavy person to be around, and conversations were usually about her and her terrible lot in life. None of my advice was taken, nothing I said would make any impact.

      And to answer your question, as soon as I dropped her from my life, I felt a weight had been lifted. I felt light and happy. Things ARE better without her. While I have no regrets, I still feel sad that now she has no one.

  30. I certainly hope we do not see a day when adoptees are discriminated against and are denied access to using DNA testing. This is one of my major concerns when hearing ethics experts trot out the "right to privacy" argument again. I am one of those whose first mother was very happy to be found and immediately welcoming. Even for those first parents who are not, I don't think the issue is all about what the first parents want and their needs. Adoptees have rights, too, and never had any say in being relinquished in the first place.

  31. That's cause you're a nice person An. It is sad when someone has no one.

    Robin, I think you may have intended to submit that comment on the post after this one. Anyway, I can't see adoptees ever being denied access to using DNA testing, I doubt you need to be very concerned.

    Of course adoptees have rights and it's not all about what first parents want and need. It's about what they were led to believe and how those beliefs may have directly dictated how they conducted themselves after an adoption.

    It's obvious adoptees had/have no say in being relinquished.


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