We’ve used the word victim a lot on this site; typically with respect to the person who has been betrayed by their partner’s infidelity.  You must stop being the victim!

you must stop being the victim

We use the term because the betrayed is indeed a victim. If you question that for any reason, then here is the official dictionary definition of victim:

  1. a person who suffers from a destructive or injurious action or agency.
  2. a person who is deceived or cheated, as by his or her own emotions or ignorance, by the dishonesty of others, or by some impersonal agency

So now that I’ve got that out of the way and we can clearly agree that the betrayed spouse is a victim, I want to tell you that if you are the victim, at some point you must stop being the victim.

If you don’t, it will surely cause a short circuit in the healing and recovery process.

The victim phase was rough for me…

I got to a point where I was so angry and frustrated that I had to do any work at all because of something someone else had done to me. I know many of you feel the same way. It feels so unfair. It’s like being hit by a Mack truck.

Shortly after we were married Doug was in a very bad accident. He was struck by a semi-truck (not sure if it was a Mack truck or not), went through the windshield and was injured quite badly. He was bedridden for a while and was unable to do much on his own. He was a victim. It was unfair. Though the accident wasn’t his fault, he eventually had to do the physical therapy – the hard work – to get better and make a full recovery. You have to try and wrap your head around the fact that the concept of releasing yourself from being a victim is similar to this.

See also  Clueless Alien Syndrome - When Your Spouse Becomes a Person You No Longer Recognize

So, what I’m saying is that it’s absolutely OK to be a victim and feel the pain and the truth of being a victim for a while. But if at some point you want to heal and make a full recovery you have to accept reality, get to work and stop being the victim.

Getting Over an Affair – Doing Work

So what does this mean? What does continuing to be a victim look like? How do I stop being a victim?

Being a victim means that you continue to allow the betrayer to run roughshod over you by putting up with…

  • Not ending the affair
  • Continued lying
  • Your spouse telling you to ‘just get over it’
  • The gaslighting, stonewalling and blame shifting
  • Not talking about the affair
  • Being disrespected
  • Emotional or physical abuse
  • Any other behavior that you don’t want to put up with any longer

When you continue to be a victim…

  • You are angry
  • You are resentful
  • You have a “woe is me” attitude
  • You feel disempowered
  • You feel like a doormat
  • You are confused and uncertain
  • You feel broken or damaged
  • You feel helpless and hopeless
  • You have lost your sense of self
  • You complain and blame
  • You can justify almost anything
  • You don’t face your pain and your fears

You stop being a victim by…

  • Taking 100% responsibility for your life
  • Accepting that you can only control yourself
  • Accepting that which you cannot change
  • Establishing boundaries
  • Enforcing consequences
  • Holding other people accountable for their decisions
  • Becoming a stronger person
  • Standing up for yourself
  • Treating yourself better
  • Expecting more from others and from yourself
  • Taking action and avoiding threats
  • Demanding respect
See also  The Awakening Poem

This is going to be difficult for many of you to do. I understand that. It was hard for me to do as well. But at some point you just have to put your foot down and make a conscious decision to NOT get kicked around anymore.

After the Affair: Tough Love Brings Subtle Changes

Thoughts from Survivors

I wanted to include a couple of comments from affair survivors, as I think they are very powerful and sum up quite nicely what it means to not be a victim:

I tried everything, every logical or illogical approach. Everything from rational, calm, loving statements supported by research and quotes to total emotional breakdowns where I’m not sure he could even understand a word I said but my pain was clearly streaming down my face. After exhausting all possible options to have him “get it”, finally I accepted defeat, realized that whether he gets it or not isn’t going to come by me, that absolutely NOTHING I say or do will change his thinking or choices, and all it ever did was give him ammunition…a look inside my thinking to have an easier way to twist reality and blameshift.

The game stopped when I quit playing. I just let him think whatever he wanted of me, stopped correcting him, stopped reasoning, and in that process stopped absorbing his fucked up responses to me. Taking back control of my reactions is what helped me crawl out of victim mode. I’m not a victim today. I’m a survivor.



You stop being a victim when you accept that nothing you could have done would have changed his choice to cheat. When I accepted this I felt empowered. Yes I was a victim. Yes life was very unfair. I had to make a conscious choice that it was on him.

I was no longer going to be a victim. I was not going to tolerated being lied to, disrespected or hurt again. I drew my demands for reconciliation, and made clear the consequences for those actions. I did not allow my heart to be open to him until I was convinced he got it.

This gave me strength and allowed me to start to take care of me.

Additional Resources

If you haven’t read The Awakening by Virginia Marie Swift, I highly recommend that you do so. In fact, you may want to bookmark it or print it out so that you can read it when you are feeling uninspired.

See also  What to Say When a Wayward Spouse Blames You for the Affair

Here’s the link to that post:  https://www.emotionalaffair.org/the-awakening/

Here is a good video that Doug found called, How To Stop Being A Victim – The #1 Reason You Are Stuck In Life. It’s by Leo Gura, the founder of Actualized.org, and though it is not specific to victims of infidelity, it has some solid advice on how to stop being a victim in all aspects of life.



In closing, remember that you will carry what happened to you forever. I’m quite certain that this whole experience has changed you as it has me. While it becomes part of who you are in certain ways, it certainly does not define who you are – at least it shouldn’t.

Going forward you have a choice. You can choose to let being victimized consume you in a negative way or you can choose to let being victimized consume you in a positive way. It’s up to you to decide to take your life back and stop allowing anything or anyone to control it. There is power in NOT being a victim.


    9 replies to "You Must Stop Being the Victim"

    • Tiredofitall

      This is just what I needed to hear this morning. I am so good at telling others to let go of the things you can’t control, but so bad at taking my own advice. I HAVE NOT let go. My husband is working hard to make me feel loved and is very thoughtful and caring through my periods of anguish. However, I just still cannot get past the cloud of doubt and fear that is ever present. Triggers still happen and I am much better at tucking them away without reacting to them but I’m still not ready for that last step and wonder if I will ever be. I still feel less than perfect and have that fear that if I put down my guard and let go of the pain, that it will happen to me again. If he can do it once, twice, three times in 20 years—he can do it again, right? All I know that does give me power is the fact that I have made it perfectly clear that if he does cheat again, I am done and out of here. Period. I never did that before. I’m glad that that part is different.

    • Blue

      I really got a lot out of this article. (no I’m not a plant Helen!)

      I was a victim, but I do not want to define myself by this. I would rather define myself through the way I handle this ‘past’ and how I will handle the future with grace and integrity. If someone wrongs me- let it define them and not me. I can walk away- I will find my way and fill it with being the best kindest person I can be.

      We are fortunate and I am grateful to live in the times and countries where we have Free Will. I will stay with my husband as long as I feel respected and will leave with my integrity intact if I don’t. It’s taken me a long time to get here as I was in great fear of my anger and resentment and hurting my children. I certainly was lost. I feel I’m finally rising above this madness that happened to me. (although I know there will always be emotional days ahead)

      Good Luck to everyone on this journey.

      • Blue

        when I said ‘hurting my children’ I meant leaving their father and the emotional pain a divorce would cost- not actually hit them. lol

      • Shifting Impressions

        Blue, your comment really resonated with me. I too would rather let the way I handle the betrayal define me rather than the betrayal itself. Easier said than done…..that’s for sure.

    • exercisegrace

      There is (at least in my mind) a distinction between being victimized and being a victim. I was victimized by the affair, by both my husband and his affair partner. That sad fact will never change. But because he is remorseful and working hard to rebuild our relationship, I do not have to be a victim. The balance of power has been equalized once more in our relationship. If he was unrepentant or still cheating? I would be stuck in victim mode, as the assault on me would be ongoing. I am at a point where I am able to acknowledge what has been done TO me with letting it DEFINE me. Sadly, I think my husband defines HIMSELF by what he did far more than I define MYSELF. Forgiving himself is probably his toughest challenge.

    • Tiredofitall

      EG- I’m curious at how your husband shows his remorse, etc.? Does he ever begin conversations himself and say how sorry he is? My H never ever brings up the EA but if I do he is more than patient and willing to work through the conversation. And if I get in a bad place he apologizes for what he has done to us. He does seem sincere and I very much appreciate that. But, I wish that he would sometimes be the one to initiate some type of conversation and I worry that he only thinks of what he has ruined when I bring it up. Other than that we have life as normal and as much as I want that normal back…I kind of think its unfair that I am the one who has to think about the EA & relive it EVERYDAY!

      • exercisegrace

        My husband does sometimes initiate conversation. Usually when he sees me struggling, seeming sad, etc. We have had some very good conversations with a lot of honesty and I was shocked at how often he thinks of the affair. I bet you would be surprised at how often your husband feels sorrow and regret for what he has done. I’m not making an excuse, but men don’t seem able to articulate emotions as easily as women. I also hate to say this, but I find that talking about it brings me down. We are a bit over two years past d day, and while I occasionally want to ask him something those days are few and far between now.

        His preferred mode is to not mention the affair and focus on the present and future. He was a good husband and father before the affair, but now he is even more connected. He will take our younger kids with him to do an errand, for example. In the “old days” he would never have thought of giving me a break for a few hours, he would only have thought of the inconvenience to HIM to drag them along.

        So I try to remind myself that what he DOES is far more important than what he SAYS. During his affair, he lied constantly. And what drove my suspicion was the disconnect between what he was saying and the way he was behaving. I have to keep that in the front of my brain. His words, even if they are few, match completely with his actions.

    • Joan

      My partner too has changed with regard to his behaviour towards me. He now helps around the house (he has been retired for some years – he was 73 when he had his very intense emotional affair!), he treats me kindly, he now takes me for rides out in the countryside, but still insists that he “can’t remember ” most of the details of his affair and it’s really holding things up as far as trusting him again. He has answered only things that I found out myself or just mundane details. I suspect that he still feels ,that despite all the lies and deception and telling the OW that he loved her up to
      30 times a day, that everything they did together was “innocent”.
      His stance on this has been the same since the 2nd D-day, whenever I found hundreds of calls and emails. Another thing that I can’t understand is that since that day he has said that “he was over it all” (despite telling her he loved her only half an hour before I confronted him).
      What do I do? Do I just accept that his behaviour has changed and keep all these worries to myself , and stay unhappy with our relationship? I love him very much but these things are chipping away at that the longer he holds out, or put up and shut up ?
      I’m so unhappy. Any suggestions would be so appreciated.

      • Monica

        Dear Joan,
        Your post is two years old, but I’m curious what you have done since then. I am 2+ years from first D-Day (1+ year from second D-Day) and I cannot trust or respect my husband. While I have not seen or discovered any further cheating behaviours, I am now aware of the BS that I had put up with. No person should have to put up with the lies and disrespect a BS experiences. You wrote that your husband was telling another woman that he loved her and said it was “innocent.” I hope you have realized that is just wrong and extremely disrespectful towards you. I can now say, I would not put up with such an act anymore. I truly hope you are in a beautiful space.

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