Being a Target versus Being a Victim

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!

6 Ways to Get Rid of Self-Doubt

Many targets of bullying are filled with self-doubt. However, it isn’t only targets of bullying that suffer this malady. Self-doubt ranks right up there with fear. It’s a close second to it as it kills your dreams and causes you to live in mediocrity. Therefore, fear and self-doubt are the catalysts to life-failure. I don’t want this to happen to you.

So, how do we get rid of self-doubt? And how do we bravely work on our goals and dreams and ultimately, achieve success?

It starts in the mind.

1. Remember how far you’ve come.

2. Remember the battles you’ve fought and won.

3. Remember the fears you’ve faced and overcome.

4. Remember all the bullies and mean people you’ve overcome.

5. Remember all the hurts you’ve come back from.

6. Remember all the things you’ve accomplished- even the tiniest of wins you’ve scored.

Understand that we all come to roadblocks and hit brick walls. We all have our down times and, sadly, sometimes those bumps in the road can cause us to doubt ourselves.

Hey! I just hit mine in the last month and had to take a rest! Yes! Me- the blogger my friend Kym Moore and a few other bloggers like to call “The Energizer Bunny!” But even the Energizer Bunny needs to stop and recharge every now and then.

Again, we all- even the best of us, have periods when we doubt ourselves. The trick is to get up, dust yourself off, and keep pushing on. Rest when you must. And when you rest, take all the time you need to recover. But don’t you dare give into self-doubt and quit.

As mentioned earlier, we all have times when we self-doubt. The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is whether they give up or keep going.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

The World Through the Eyes of a Target

After you’ve been a target of bullying for any length of time, the world becomes a terrifying place.

You begin avoiding people and social situations like the plague because you’ve become afraid of people- all people. In short, you’ve lost all faith in humanity. Everything becomes threatening. You’re stuck in defense mode and constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The ability to think becomes blurry. You drown in self-doubt and lose the ability to distinguish fact from opinion and truth from lies. Therefore, you lose the ability to make smart decisions. You’re always on guard and trust no one. Again, everyone becomes a threat. Even total strangers become threatening.

You can’t give anyone a chance because you’ve become so afraid of being hurt again. And why not? Your classmates or coworkers have done extensive and deliberate harm for so many months or even years. So, who’s to say that others won’t do the same.

Knowing that anyone could bully you at any time, you must always watch your back and cover your behind. And you must continually look over your shoulder and observe those around you for signs of hostility.

You come to believe you have a mark on you that everyone but you can see, and it’s why others always seem to come after you. As much as you want to get rid of that mark, you’re not sure how to do it.

You don’t think you’ll ever stop being a target.

There’s the feeling that there’s no possibility of ever overcoming it. Other victims might rise above it, but you never will because you think that love, success, and anything good is for anyone who isn’t you.

You’ll never be the same person you were before bullies began targeting you. When you’ve been a target of bullying and continue to be, jokes stop being funny because you automatically feel they are somehow aimed at you. Bullying makes a person paranoid. And with good reason.

You lose all confidence, and your self-esteem hits rock bottom. Therefore, your mind is poisoned with the belief that you can never do anything right. You see yourself as a failure. You think that anything you touch, you’ll only screw up.

There’s the expectation that you’ll fail in social situations and that everyone will see all your flaws, real or perceived. You start having unexpected and uncontrollable emotional meltdowns and outbursts. Why? Because you’re in constant fight or flight mode. Your mind is in overdrive, and you’re hyper-vigilant. Your physical body suffers splitting headaches and violent bouts of nausea.

You don’t know who you are anymore. You’ve become a stranger to yourself- this person you don’t even recognize.

You’re shaky inside. You feel tired and run down all the time now. Even worse, you pass out from panic attacks, and you can no longer sleep at night. Your weight drops and your hair falls out due to the overwhelming stress. You feel as if people are torturing you.

In essence, you turn against yourself because you feel the entire world has turned against you.

I was there at one point. Then, I got mad! I didn’t only get angry at them for driving me into that dark pit of hopelessness, but I got mad at myself for allowing it! And when I got mad at myself and started working on changing my self-perception, that’s when things began to change!

The good thing is that I wasn’t down for long. Therefore, if you’re a target of bullying, and this describes how you feel now, I want to give you a big hug.

I also want to tell you that regardless of how things are looking now, there’s hope. You will see the sun again.

‘You see? It’s one thing to have people look down on you, but it’s another when you allow them to cause you to look down on yourself. If nothing else, hang on to your self-love and your strong sense of self. Please don’t allow your bullies to force you to see yourself through their eyes. Believe in yourself, even when no one else does. Never ever give up.

Bullies may turn everyone else against you. Just make sure they never turn you against you.

Know that no matter what, you’re worth it! And you deserve friendship, love, and happiness just as much as anyone else!

How You Regain Your Power

You regain your power by changing your mindset. Realize that a victim mentality only breeds a funky attitude.

I may have been a target, but I was never a victim. I thought I was during the entire time I was bullied and for a while after it was over. Understand that a victim mentality, when taken to extremes, serves no purpose. It only breeds laziness and entitlement. You feel that the world owes you something. It doesn’t.

I had the same attitude and it got me nowhere!

Also, if you hold on to it and let it define you, you’ll only attract more bullies and abusers in your life. We are what we think, and the universe will provide more of the stuff that matches our thoughts.

That is why it’s so important that you shed this mentality of defeat. Only then will you re-empower yourself and win true peace and happiness!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

When You Believe It, You’ll See It

I’ve always heard people make the statement, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

The problem is that our attitudes shape our perspectives and perspectives shape what we see. Put another way, our perspectives can blind us to a lot of stuff, even to what’s right in front of our faces. Because, if you have the mindset that you’ll believe it when you see it, the chances are that you never will see it.

This is the reason many targets are bullied. It’s the reason why innocent people are convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. It’s also the reason why many bullies and criminals are promoted to high positions. Because of others’ attitudes!

We often base our judgments of others on our attitudes towards them, by what we’ve heard about them, or whether we like them. Many times, we judge others too harshly because we can’t see past our dislike or hatred of them.

We also do this with our own lives as well. If we’ve had a string of adversity throughout our lives, we usually come to expect more of the same. And sadly, we end up getting just that!

We come to see ourselves as unlucky, undesirable, unlovable, and incapable of success. As a result of our thinking, we get more and more adversity because our attitudes and perspectives about our lives will blind us to opportunities- opportunities that are, more than likely, right in front of us- opportunities that others may see and seize. Then, we’ve missed out once again and thus, the cycle begins, yet again.

Case in point, our attitudes and perspectives have ways of shaping and influencing our lives, the things that happen in our lives, and where our lives take us. They attract people and events.

This is why we must do the inner work to change our thought patterns. We must check our attitudes and work to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. The only way you will have a positive life is to have a positive attitude, then a positive perspective, which can only develop by having positive thoughts.

I know it’s hard to do when it seems that adversity is coming at you from every possible direction. Believe me, I understand because I’ve been there.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t happen overnight. But I promise you this. If you start now by catching each negative thought and replacing it with a thought that’s positive, you’ll be surprised at how much better your life will get!

“What if it doesn’t work out?” Oooooh! But “What if it does?”

It worked for me and it’ll work for you too!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

You’re a Target but Not a Victim!

During the last year, an epiphany has occurred to me and I’ve begun to stray away from the word “victim.” More and more, I have replaced that word with the word, “target.” I’ve come to realize that, yes, I was a target but, was I ever a victim?

I want to tell you that if you’re being bullied, could it be that you’re not a victim but a target? And could it be that you’re a target not because you’re weak or inferior, but because you’re a threat? Because your voice and your very being are powerful?  So powerful, it scares them to death?

Believe it or not, being a victim has a lot to do with mindset and words have enormous power- in other words, if you’re a victim, you’re right, but if you’re not a victim but a target, you’re also right. A victim mentality can only bring about more abusers, more abuse, and therefore, more victimhood.

Do you want that?

If you survived bullying, you’re no longer a target. And it could be that you never really were a victim. But you are a victor! That’s right! You’re a winner because you’re an overcomer!

Victim mentality is the downfall of many survivors of bullying. It keeps you down, keeps you defeated, keeps you oppressed, and keeps you a “victim.” This kind of thinking also keeps you dependent. It breeds laziness and the attitude that the world owes you something. Or it leads to resignation, hopelessness, and the attitude of defeat. It’s the root of a condition called, “Learned Helplessness.”

Do you know what’s worse? It also has the undertones that you’re somehow inferior. You’re not!  When you have the victim mentality, you’re afraid of taking back your power because to do so requires personal responsibility.

Taking back your power means that you make your own reality and make your own decisions, your own path, and your own successes, all of which require that you take risks and risk the possibility of failure.  And yes! It’s scary!

You must create your own happiness and whether you know how to do that, the responsibility is still there and always will be.

Again, the victim mentality requires that, subconsciously, you feel inferior and I want you to know with every fiber of your being that, you’re inferior to no one! It dictates that you think that you’re nothing without the consent of another person, entity, or higher power and that’s wrong!

Who is anyone to decide who you are or what you can do?

I’m not a victim. Yes, when I was young and being bullied, I felt like a victim and thought I was. But was I really? Although the memoir about the bullying I endured is entitled, “From Victim to Victor (A Survivor’s True Story of Her Experiences with School Bullying), was I really a victim? I’ve come to realize that I was a target. I was never a victim!

I say this because I had the victim mentality when I was young, and it almost ruined my life. Please don’t let it ruin yours. I realize that being a target of bullying is one of the hardest things a person can endure. But one thing your bullies can’t take is your mind unless you allow it. Please don’t allow them to change your thought patterns because that’s what they want and you deserve better- much better!

I was fortunate that my eyes were opened and that I managed to shed negative thinking and adopt a winning attitude. But many victims stay stuck in a self-defeating mindset, continue to have the worst luck, and lose all hope.

In closing, know that no matter how bad things get, there’s always hope. Hold on to it!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

This is How to Distinguish Between Being Alone and Being Lonely

Being alone means being in solitude- being by yourself. When you’re alone, you’re without the company of others. Being lonely, on the other hand, means having feelings of abandonment- being sad due to being isolated and alienated from others.

Alone is a state of being. Whereas, loneliness is a state of mind. An emotion. You can be in a room full of people and though you may not be alone, you can be lonely. It’s not about the number of people around you, it’s about how you feel.

When you’re alone, you can be happy. When you’re lonely, you can’t.

Being alone is sometimes beneficial because it allows you to focus on a project without disruption and makes concentration so much easier. So, you can be alone without necessarily being lonely. And everyone needs a little bit of “me-time” every day!

Being alone is being at home by yourself and enjoying a good book.
Being lonely is that dull ache in your chest after you’ve lost a family member or been thrown under the bus by your friends.

Here’s how to beat that awful feeling of loneliness:

1. Concentrate on your hobbies. Do something you enjoy doing- preferably something that takes a little concentration and consumes some time.

2. Get up and move. Exercise works wonders and has a way of producing endorphins that make you feel good. Dancing to some good music is a great picker-upper!

3. Do a home-improvement project. Clean out your garage or declutter your closets.

As you know, I was bullied for six long years in school. But I also had hobbies that distracted me from some of the loneliness.

My writing and art projects at home were one of the ways I survived those lonely years. They made things a lot more bearable and when I’d finish a project, that feeling of accomplishment I’d get would always supersede any feeling of abandonment I felt!

Never fear being alone. Too many people think that because you’re alone, it means you’re lonely. It doesn’t!

With knowledge comes empowerment!

When You Assert Your Boundaries, Be Prepared for Others, Especially Bullies, to Accuse You of Having “An Attitude.” (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

Your boundaries and standards are the invisible fortresses surrounding you with protection. They keep you safe from harm. When you set boundaries, it means that you don’t allow others to take advantage of you. It also means that you refuse to be a pushover and won’t let other people make you do things that aren’t in line with your goals, values, morals, or convictions. In short, you don’t allow yourself to be manipulated.

And it requires that you call out anyone who tries to stick so much as one knee, one foot,  or one toe over those boundaries. You’re assertive but not overly aggressive. You’re strong but not overbearing. When you say no, you mean it, and you say it without feeling guilty over not saying yes. And when you do say yes to others, you can do it without saying no to yourself.

Sadly, it can be hard to set boundaries and standards, especially when dealing with overly-aggressive bullies who have anger issues. Our first instinct is to protect ourselves any way we can- even if it means we must appease these people to ensure our safety.

Many targets have zero boundaries and feel that to keep from being bullied worse than they already do, they must always bend over backward to make sure the people around them feel comfortable and at ease, which is wrong and a horrible way to live!

And sadly, that only works temporarily because bullies and abusers always come back for more.

Many targets don’t feel strong enough to keep invaders out of their bubble. And it’s because of this that they feel guilty and like failures when they’re unable to enforce their boundaries and standards. Targets also feel as if they’ve let themselves down, and, let me tell ya! It’s the worst feeling in the world.

I want you to understand that, no matter what others may tell you or how they may act, it’s okay to refuse their mistreatment and disrespect. It’s okay to say no to bullying by those who insist they have the right to cross your boundaries and invade your space physically, socially, psychologically, or spiritually. Know that you deserve a seat at the table of life, not one in the corner.

Setting boundaries and standards is not having an“attitude.” It’s your right! It would be best if you accepted that any limitations you put in place will get a ton of resistance. So, take this as a given! And again, look at it this way. The resistance you will get will be a sign of who your real friends aren’t.

Resistance is soooo telling! It can help you find out who’s really for your good and who isn’t.

It’s never good to be a yes-person, nor is it smart. Caring about others is great but caring too much is unhealthy. Boundaries and standards are needed because, without them, you subject yourself to living your life on autopilot- you’re a car without a steering wheel- a ship without a rudder!

But with them, you have a rudder, and you can chart your life’s course. The winds and currents may change, and the waters get rough, and you may indeed go off course, but you’ll still have some degree of direction. In setting boundaries and standards, you’re not completely powerless over what happens to you. You have some say over your destiny.

That’s why it’s so crucial that you stand in your power and speak your truth. Never dumb yourself down and make yourself less than the awesome person you are. Never settle for less than what you want and deserve.

Put yourself first instead of everyone else before you. Stop being a people pleaser. Stop putting your wants and needs on the back burner to keep others satisfied. It would be best if you practice self-love and self-care.

Accept that people won’t handle it well and be willing to let them go because they don’t deserve a seat at your table. And once you do, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much better life gets and how many people of integrity and sound quality come into your life. And I can say this from experience.

With knowledge comes empowerment!

When You Assert Your Boundaries, Be Prepared for Others, Especially Bullies, to Accuse You of Having “An Attitude.”

Girl sitting on the ground and drawing personal space. Selective focus

Many times, when we set boundaries and refuse to lower our standards, we’re accused of having “an attitude.” Lord only knows how many times I got that response when I either said no to something I didn’t like or refused to be manipulated or to take abuse. Therefore, it’s better to accept, even embrace, the reality that others will see you as doing just that- having an attitude when you stand on your principles.

Toxic teachers will assume that you’re insubordinate. Abusive managers and supervisors will think you’re not a team player, and bullying peers will see you as a ‘difficult’ person to be around, and that’s only a very mild version of what they may call you.

Understand that anytime we enforce our boundaries and standards, we become threats to abusers. We expose the manipulative people in our lives through the limits we set and see them more clearly. Why? Because we force them to tell off on themselves through their very reactions toward us.

Through having boundaries and standards, we can better tell the difference between real friends and fake ones. We can better see which people are truly for us and value our friendship and which ones are only in our lives because they want something from us.

Like all abusers, bullies feel entitled to devalue you and expect you to “just go with the flow” and not object to it. With these types of people, your healthy boundaries and standards are an insult to them. Why? Because they don’t recognize limits.

In their minds, anything goes, and the world and everything in it is one big free-for-all. In other words, any rules, laws, or limits don’t apply to them.

Bullies and frenemies believe they should have carte blanche to treat you any way they choose. They get super offended when you get enough of their abuse and finally have the courage to put your foot down. Accept that you will lose people you think are friends when you establish boundaries and standards. And they will often be the people you’d never expect.

But realize that these peoples’ condescension and dismissal are only proof of their discomfort and their only recourse. Bullies can’t handle an assertive person of incredible strength because they can never meet them on their level.

Also, understand that you cannot grow, be safe, or be free if you don’t set boundaries, and in many cases, people go out of their way to prevent targets of bullying and abuse from imposing any limits. It seems that boundaries and standards are okay for anyone else but strictly prohibited for targets.

But realize that you cannot continue to live your life as a doormat. Therefore,  you must dig deep and pull out the courage to establish your boundaries, which include,

Physical boundaries

Psychological boundaries

Time boundaries

No entry sign with barrier tape

Material boundaries

Intellectual boundaries

You are a flesh-and-blood human being who has rights! And sometimes, you must “cop an attitude” to defend those rights and enforce your boundaries from relentless bullies and other fakers who won’t take no from an answer and continue to violate them.

When you set firm boundaries and standards, you protect your physical well-being, emotional health, self-esteem, and identity from anyone who seeks to destroy them. You make yourself an individual human being who asserts your right to make your own choices and decisions.

(Continued in Part 2)