Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, relationships > Is Your Girlfriend or Wife a Professional Victim?

Is Your Girlfriend or Wife a Professional Victim?


Does your girlfriend or wife blame you for everything that’s wrong in the relationship, yourfaulteven her bad behaviors? Does she refuse to take responsibility for her own actions, especially the hurtful ones? Do you frequently feel forced into a role of contrition in which you have to make up for some wrong or “owe” your girlfriend or wife?

If so, you may be involved with a woman who is a professional victim. Don’t be fooled, she is no victim. Victim-hood is a powerful role. In fact, women who play the victim are often the aggressor in relationships. They play the “victim” to manipulate and control others by holding you emotionally hostage.

Professional victims are stealth bullies. Being caught in a never ending blame game with one of these women is a form of emotional abuse for the man at whom she points her finger in accusation.

The following characteristics are signs that your girlfriend or wife may be a professional victim:

1) She never acknowledges when she hurts others. She has exclusive rights to the role of “injured party.” When you call her on her  behavior, she provides ample excuses for why she’s not accountable. The excuses she provides assign blame for her actions to someone else, usually the person she’s wronged. It’s always your fault or someone else’s fault, but never, ever is it her fault.

2) The victim must be victimized. If you’re not an abusive person, she’ll pull it out of you in order to play the victim script she has in her head. For example, she needles and needles and needles one of your sore spots, until you can’t take it any more and snap at her in defense.

Presto! She just got you to “victimize” her–never mind the previous 2 hours in which she psychologically tormented and bullied you into it. She needs to play innocent victim to someone’s bad guy. It’s the foundation of her identity.

This is a very primitive defense mechanism called projective identification, which, if you’re on the receiving end, is truly awful in that it makes you feel like the crazy person. It’s a self-fulfilling prophesy whereby she believes you’re a “bad guy” and she’s a “victim.”  She then behaves or interacts with you in such a way that you change your behavior in response to her actions and become the “bad guy.” A telltale sign is that you feel like you’re being coerced into being someone that you’re not. It’s highly, highly emotionally abusive.

3) She blames others and circumstances for her own shortcomings or failures. The professional victim lives in “Never-Never Take Personal Responsibility Land,” which is bordered to the North by “The Land of If Only.” This allows her to blame her parents, siblings, co-workers, bosses, professors and you for her life, career and relationships not being as she thinks they should be.

She’d be running the business if only her boss recognized her talents. She’d have graduated from culinary school and been wildly successful if her prof hadn’t looked at her cross-eyed. She’d have sex with you more often if you did more of x, y, and z. Don’t fall for this malarkey, men. She’s right in that there’s someone to blame for her sad life. She need only look in the mirror to direct her blame accurately.

4) She admires and respects people who actually treat her badly. This is a fascinating aspect of the professional victim: They defend those who harm, exploit and bully them and vilify and lash out at those who want to help and care for them. She may fondly describe a relative or ex-boyfriend who sounds like a real S.O.B. and follow it up with, “but he’s such a good person.” Meanwhile, you bend over backward to tiptoe around her extreme sensitivities and she accuses you of “beating her down” and “not being supportive.” Huh?

The fact that she admires and respects bullies and people who abuse their power is a huge red flag because we emulate those we admire. Let me make this point crystal clear, SHE ADMIRES BULLIES AND ABUSERS BECAUSE SHE IS REALLY AN EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE BULLY IN VICTIM’S CLOTHING.

It’s impossible to have a loving relationship of equals with a professional victim. She goes through life feeling slighted and angry, never taking responsibility for her actions or life. Good luck trying to talk to her about this. You’ll meet with extreme defensiveness and more blaming behaviors. Her only identity is that of victim: If she doesn’t believe she’s being victimized, then who is she? Someone who treats other people like crap and who is pissing her life away. It’s a matter of psychological self-preservation versus ego annihilation.

You can’t have a healthy and happy relationship with someone who holds you hostage and controls you through guilt, emotional blackmail, and blame. This type of person rarely changes and usually has characteristics of one of the dramatic cluster B personality disorders, including Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder or some variation.

If you’re involved with one of these women, I encourage you to reconsider the relationship. When I come across them in life, I try to avoid them altogether or, at the very least, minimize contact. It’s really the only way to deal with them.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.

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Photo credits:

Your fault on freerepublic.

  1. Frank Falcone
    January 31, 2017 at 12:13 pm

    My Girlfriend was great in the beginning. Now it’s seems like whatever I do it not enough. It’s got me confused on what she wants. She always plass the victim. If I bring up a situation I’m not happy with in our relationship, it’s turned around on me and it’s my fault. She expects me to know if she has an issue today or not. I don’t get it.

  2. GT
    January 25, 2017 at 11:00 am

    Yes, yes, yes. This was 6/7 written years before I met my BPD ex-girlfriend, or even knew what the term meant. But it describes my experience with uncanny accuracy. Thank you for writing this.

  3. Andre
    January 23, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    This is my wife summed up…Great read…

  4. January 7, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Hello everyone and thank you shrink4men for this forum. I think I may be involved with such a woman. I mean we all have our flaws. Mine is that I can’t seem to keep a steady job. I do contract work and that don’t seem to be cutting it. She shames me for that and my parenting skills for keeping our son in line. Says that it’s a turn off. We did read a book explaining the expectation of, both men and women. It spoke about how women need financial stability. Well she took that and ran track with it. She holds it over my head every time she gets a chance. She has a job that pays 3x better than I do. I helped push her in her career. I, however, rarely get support in what I do or need to do. I’m in IT and have to maintain certifications on a regular. She don’t seem to want support me as I try to study, while I’m between jobs. She wants me to take up any old factory job. I tell her if she just allow me to get a few certs, I could be making as much as her to more than help out the house hold. She don’t seem to want to do it. We argue daily. We’re not married, but have a beautiful son together. We would try to dummy proof our relationship by writing down our expectation for one another. Guess what? She’s the first to brake the rules and or mutual agreements, don’t take responsibility for it and tends to get mad at me when I rightfully have the right to get mad at her. It’s like a vicious cycle. I’m just tired. She with holding affection, sex and time. I’m the one asking if we can spend more time together. Every since we had our son we rarely hang out. It’s as if we’re changing and don’t know in what ways we are changing due to lack of communication and or time with one another. She rather spend time with people at work than with me.
    I just don’t get it. When she’s tired I asked to rub her back and or feet, when she’s angry I would want to protect her from the issues. When I’m not working I cook, clean and wash cloths. When our son disrespects her, She jumps on me when I jump on him. She’s always blaming me for something. I just feel as if this chaos is pushing me out the door. She’s very beautiful, but beauty can only go so far. However, it brakes my heart to know that I’m thinking about splitting up a home for a 6 yro and from a woman I literally gave my all to. I do feel worthless as if my all isn’t good enough.
    It’s funny, as you mentioned in your article, when I’m really upset and ready to leave, she would want to sit down, talk and seems to listen. When all is good, she sabotage it again. I’m so sorry for ranting, but I don’t know if she’s involve with someone else or doing these chaotic things on purpose to get me to volunteer to leave. I’m lost, hurt and confused.

    In advanced, thank you for any more helpful advice that you can spare,
    LivingDyingMan.

  5. George Razmadze
    December 7, 2016 at 9:06 am

    Hello,
    I am hardworking and a loyal man that has been married for 13 years. I have one daughter as my wife decided not to give a birth to another child. I was so depressed. My wife has never had a job as I provided for my family for 13 years that we have been together. I live with a women who blames me and everybody else for everything that happens in her life. This is truly horrible. Everything good that happens comes about because she deserves it, while if something is wrong then it is my fault or someone else’s: One day she dropped a plate and it broke and she blamed me for this mishap as one month prior to that I said something that in her opinion was wrong! and staff like that. If she has a health problem this is only my fault! She announced 6 month ago that she wants divorce. I tried to talk to her about it and she blames me for everything that ever happened wrong in the universe!. She insisted for divorce a month later again and I agreed! and another month later she blamed me that I wanted divorce! about a year ago she said she wouldn’t like to have sex with me and told me that I could get sex anywhere else and two month later she blamed me for not having sex with her even though I tried to approach her more than 5 times during this period. She accused me to have an affair many times even though I am a loyal husband. I always tell her that there is always both sides to be blamed in most family conflicts. But she says that she is a perfect wife and everything that is happening is only my fault. She started manipulating with our daughter and trying to get as much money from me a possible. At the moment I am selling a house so that she can live separately as that is what she wants. As soon as I started to announce publicly that the house is for sale she accused me of trying to getting rid of her. She is totally in love with herself. She always demands the best cloths and everything should be of top quality. She can go to the hairdresser’s for 6,7 hours. she never listens to my advice or recommendations. She always does everything her way. Once she ran away from my house to her sister’s only because I gave her a reprove for a minor fault (she has run away from our house 3 times). Once she ran away from her best friends wedding for absolutely absurd reason even though she was a brides maid (we managed to bring her back, thank God). There are so many things that she has done wrong it is truly shocking!

    • Steve
      December 7, 2016 at 5:50 pm

      Divorce and get out, it won’t get better.

  6. August 25, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I am in this situation currently. My girlfrend is a professional victim. I have even tried to talk to her about it. All she does is spin my words around and say that I am the one being the victim and that I treat her horribly. Her insecurities and her constant assumptions have destroyed our relationship. What makes it even worse it that she is a Christian fanatic. It is very frustrating. She is a good person. She would give you the shirt of her back. But I can’t deal with this every 5 days. We were planning to get married but her last episode really has me thinking. And I am losing my feeling for her.

  7. July 5, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    This description of a “professional victim” is the only way to describe my ex-girlfriend. Over a period of time she had me convinced that I was the worst kind of person. I lost my job, my car and most importantly my sobriety! I hope to god she gets help. I am now in therapy and seeing a psychiatrist.

  8. chris
    July 5, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    I feel stuck, helpless, exactly what this article is talking about is my girl, fiancee or soon to be wife at the chapel now. I need help, I lost everything, pride, family, money, friends, everything I can think of….i have suicidal thoughts and she would just say I am depress when I feel angry and upset. Instead of doing something about it, she would tell me I am worthless, she would have gotten with richer guys. Worst of all her family is on her side, especially her mom when ever I raised my voice she thinks it’s my fault, she thinks I am yelling or screaming at her house. Everyday or at least every 2 days she would tell me I am useless, while she doesn’t even know how to cook. Everyday I get off she would tell me she’s tired, and she would make me massage her…

    • shrink4men
      July 6, 2016 at 5:17 pm

      Get out now while you still can and no matter what you do NOT get her pregnant. Then go get yourself some therapy to understand why you’re tolerating her abuse and confusing it with love.

  9. tenzen
    June 17, 2016 at 8:52 am

    Just came out of a very on off relationships, my ex’s former boyfriends, seem to be bullies and I was different, kind, not a push over, far from it, but a nice chap. She couldn’t handle it, turned it round, a really push pull relationship. Sent me over the edge, however back on course with my life and my career, if not stronger. However I question certain aspects of the relationships, as prior to that “love is blind”, I see her in this. Always the victim and never took responsibility, our last discussion before we fell out for good, it was when I challenged her. She was going about an ex (one I had never heard of before, and boy did she like to go on about her ex’s) and how bad he was , I said more or less, you must liked you or you would never go out with him or paid for him (she was moaning she always footed the bill), first time I have ever challenged her, prior to that I had been the shoulder to cry on. She flipped, and that was it, she cut me out of her life !!! Just like that, at first I was really hurt, now dating again, happy — as stated above you can’t having a loving relationships with people like this, and they will never admit their errors, thanks for this – final stage of healing

  10. JP
    May 15, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    This article and all of the comments that followed have been a god send for me. I’m not a huge believer in the rigid characterisations of personality disorders but I suppose it helps us find some communality and share experiences from our side like this. I’ve recently managed to convince myself that I’m better off out of an abusive relationship with a girl who has symptoms of a wide range of personality disorders but was recently diagnosed with STPD (Schizotypal Personality Disorder). The most frustrating problem for me has been the idea that she’s not responsible for her actions. I’ve even been convinced that her past experiences, the abuse and other problems like her terminally ill child are the cause for her behaviour. Maybe they are. The lying, manipulation, always being the victim, never taking responsibility, not listening to my view or understanding my feelings, having zero empathy but occasionally having outbursts of what seems like love and passion. Telling me I’m everything but then treating me like shit. Its been horrible. I’ve ended up in counselling myself because I’m worried that I have a mental problem myself. How could I allow someone to do these things to me? How could I feel so guilty when my gut was telling me I was being manipulated? I think that I have my own problems because sure;y no self respecting person would allow someone the opportunity to make them feel so terrible for such a long period of time?

    The issue for me is that I’ve become dependant on her. I crave affection from her. I want her attention and I want her to love me like I love her but it never happens. She lured me into a trap at the start with amplified affection. She was too perfect. She loved me, boosted my ego, made me feel like I was 10 feet tall and better than anyone else had ever made me feel. That was the trap. That over the top love, compliments and what seemed like utter infatuation was just a lure. I was being lured into the darkest, loneliest and most challenging two years of my life.

    Why did I fall into it? I was low on confidence and my self esteem was shot to pieces. I’d been in a loveless relationship that left me feeling low so I was perfect pray for her. I was the lonely little piggy being stalked by the wolf.

    I know this awful abuse happens to both men and women. I know that the abuser might not necessarily be in full control but you have to take responsibility for the way you feel.

    You aren’t their saviour, you aren’t their hero and you aren’t responsible for them. You are responsible for yourself and your kids and thats it.

    Finally, I think the most vital piece of the personality jigsaw is empathy. Without having the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and appreciate their feelings and understand how you might impact them, in both good and bad ways, you will always have issues. Its key. These people don’t have it, they might pretend they do, but they don’t. It’s not something that can be installed overnight and its not something that will just show up. I’ve waited 3 years for that “Oh I get it now, I’m so sorry for what I’ve put you through” moment. It never came and I’d have been waiting forever.

  11. Colin
    May 6, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    I showed this article to a previous partner of my ex and he agreed it could have been written about her as she fits the profile so well yet with 8 relationships in as many years she refuses to acknowledge she in any way has a problem.
    My professional victim ex had mentioned to 3 people that I had not been in contact for 9 days, it was playing on her mind that I had moved on. She came to my place of work today and loitered around until I appeared. She then sat herself down to talk to me and asked why I had stopped contacting her. I reminded her the last time we spoke she told me not to contact her anymore and I was just doing as as she asked. It wasn’t long before the blame game started, however she also hinted it might not be over between us yet and left. A few hours later I telephoned her and her manner had changed to completely hostile. Clearly she couldn’t handle the No Contact and had come back to keep the poor me charade going and she knew seeing her again should have put my recovery back by weeks. Unfortunately for her I have read this website hundreds of times and Dr Tara Palmatier’s advice to keep clear of these people stayed in my mind. Point of this story is you can get over a relationship with these people. You need to keep reminding yourself you are the real victim, you need to look after yourself, these people cannot be helped and nor can they change. My ex was physically absolutely beautiful and on her psychologically good days she made me proud to be her partner however those days were very few and far between. I used to say for one week a month she was like a bear with it’s paw caught in a trap and for the remainder of the month she was like a bear that had had it’s paw caught in a trap! I don’t pity her as it’s in her power to change and I don’t love her anymore as the woman I now see is not the woman I fell so deeply in love with because she never existed. I thank Dr Tara Palmatier for this article and the advice herein as it has helped me get over my abusive ex in under six weeks – if I can do it you can.

  12. March 14, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Hearing everyone’s stories, I am compelled to share my own. I lasted almost 3 years and very little did I understand what was going on. From very early on i was lured by the victim, and I was to be her savior. I also really enjoy the conversations we had and she really respected my opinion. But a few months into it it started going south. How it lasted so long, well im sort of dependent and I saw her as the love of my life. She was a master of twisting words. I could not understand for the longest time how two “layed back individuals” could start fighting so much. For the longest time, I took all the blame. yes I was utterly convinced I was the problem because im no stranger to psychological processes and Im ADD, which means I was impulsive sometimes and when driven far enough I could get angry and offensive. It also made me the perfect target. I’ve never been physical, or hit anyone but I do lose it, I guess like most of us do when our words are being manipulated back to us as being anything other than what we meant. Now, what amazed me the most is how many times we sat and talked about how to defuse the issues before they started. Then when put into practice I would notice it happening and work on calming down….while she raged on. Kicking you when you were down was also a characteristic. A couple years into it, I found out that I had been doing all the work and I was under constant blame due to my ADD. I understood that this could not be true, how can one person hold the entire blame for every issue in a relationship. So i started to read in hopes of saving our relationship. But the more I dug, the more the picture seemed grim. At first i thought it was NPD but later my own psychologist said it seemed more like BPD and after reading this article im inclined to agree. The underlying issue was when a fight would start, usually for bogus reason….or even worse, perception of this id said that wasn’t true. A twisting of words that was usually a stretch from the truth…but was effective for her attack. Many times during the fight I would try and calm us down. This only worked less than 80% of the times because once she got going there was no stopping that steam train. I had never encountered anything like this. Finally, I stood up for myself and we decided to end it. I was sad because I wanted to marry her and she does have a kind heart at her core. But the inventing, the twisting, the making you apologize without her even apologizing…EVER got to the point where even my patience and understanding caved once and for all, To explain her behavior would be to rewrite this article in the exact same words. Everything written above happened exactly like it says. I feel like I would like to help people going through this, but my own experience leaves me to a very grim conclusion about people like this: It can’t be stopped unless they recognize it in them. One of the biggest traits is that they recognize NOTHING and instead YOU are the one at fault and its YOUR condition thats ruining everything. I agree with everyone’s thoughts on the system….the game is rigged. Imagine a guy being emotionally abused? He has no defense.He has to “be a man” but if its anything like what I went through…It’s inhuman. Whatever it takes, I would like to try to create a support group but first im no psychologist so i will consult with one. My best wishes goes out to all the guys who feel constantly worn down by this. Sometimes the only way..is out. Cheers.

  13. January 28, 2016 at 6:24 am

    I’m fighting that issue right now. I’m going through a break up with a professional victim, I’m finding myself deeply worried about her. Scared she will hurt herself or get further involved with the people that hurt her life. I’ve dealt with this for four years now. Yesterday I called it quits. It’s like my mind is conditioned. I’m not sad because I’ve grown to dislike her dishonesty for the sake of being a victim. She is a compulsive liar to avoid responsibility and I could never hold her accountable for the horrible things she did to herself. She always finds a way to make it someone else’s fault, then when you talk and force her to to say it, she automatically says “oh! I’m worthless, I’m going to kill myself now” or “go do Meth” or “go screw some guy” Suddenly she’s the victim!!!! And I tear myself up for it. This article was a light from above in my life. It was word for word my situation. Thank you Dr. Palmatier

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