Reasons To Steer Clear Of Victim Complexes

By: Stephanie Kirby

Updated February 17, 2020

Medically Reviewed By: Lori Jones, LMHC

Have you ever heard someone claim that another individual suffers from a "victim complex?" A victim complex also referred to as a martyr complex, is defined as "the feeling of being a martyr for his/her sake, seeking out suffering or persecution because it either feeds a psychological need or a desire to avoid responsibility." Despite some people who indulge in this state of mind, it is highly toxic and dangerous to one's mental health, self-worth, and self-esteem.


Reason #1: You Do NOT Deserve Suffering/Persecution.

Individuals who suffer from victim complexes have sadly been conned into believing that they deserve to suffer. However, this could not be further from the truth. While difficulties and challenges are an inherent part of life, people should strive to overcome hardships as opposed to wallowing in them.

In many situations, suffering is a choice. You may get knocked down, but you don't have to stay down. According to Psychology Today, those who believe they deserve suffering are likely afflicted with low self-esteem, the belief that pain will make them better, and the desire to punish themselves.

While some may believe that individuals with low self-esteem would want to cheer themselves up and feel better, this is often not the case. Research has evidenced that most people are most agreeable towards treatment which coincides with their inner feelings and self-worth. So while a confident, self-assured person likely expects to be treated with dignity and respect, an individual suffering from low self-esteem shall likely embrace victimhood, suffering, and misery.

Like those afflicted with low self-esteem, people who believe the pain will improve their character are also likely to embrace suffering and persecution. Sometimes those who want to atone for wrongdoing, express regret, or just punish themselves may accept and invite suffering and victimhood into their lives. In some cultures and religions, suffering is viewed as a state of being which will purge oneself of undesirable traits or characteristics.

Finally, individuals who embrace victim complexes may do so merely because they want to punish themselves. This disposition may stem from low self-esteem, trauma, or guilt. Unfortunately, self-punishment is a more common form of victimhood that some might believe. Persons who engage in destruction self-talk or even self-harm are punishing themselves in one way or another. The desire to self-punish is insidiously dangerous and can even become lethal. Self-punishment is also linked to a mental health issue, such as depression and eating/personality disorders. Individuals suffering from the ailments above should seek out help immediately.

Life gets tough for all of us sometimes. However, those who embrace victimhood are so much better than they believe themselves to be. Despite feelings of low self-esteem, the glorification of pain, or the belief that one deserves to suffer, life is about self-betterment and improvement. The adoption of the victim complex is profoundly unhealthy and left unchecked, shall breed ruin and ultimate destruction.

Reason #2: You Attract What You Think You Deserve.

Despite skeptics and critics, the law of attraction is genuine and always at work. One of the absolute decrees of this law is that individuals attract what they believe they deserve. A self-assured and confident person will more often than not draw supporting, favorable circumstances and opportunities into their lives. Conversely, a downtrodden, miserable individual who believes they deserve martyrdom or victimhood will attract situations, hardships, and even people who support this belief, regardless of how misguided it may be.


Steering clear of victim complexes is so critical because your livelihood depends on it. Why live a life of hardship, pain, and suffering when you can enjoy prosperity, abundance, and wellness? While the avoidance of the victim complex is paramount, understanding what breeds the victim complex allows afflicted individuals to overcome it and regain control of their lives.

Sadly, adverse childhood experiences and social/societal conditioning can engender or contribute to victim complexes. For instance, a person who grows up with abusive, neglectful, or otherwise emotionally unavailable parents or caregivers may come to believe they deserve to suffer, due to pain being their most familiar state of being. Contrarily, someone raised with love, care, and encouragement is significantly more likely to possess a positive and upbeat life outlook.

Like childhood experiences, societal and social expectations can impact someone's self-esteem and whether or not they embrace victimhood. For instance, many people have made the case that those who are consistently labeled as privileged and capable by society are arguably more likely to believe in themselves and do well in life than individuals who are continually dismissed as underprivileged, victimized, and oppressed.

However, despite the impacts that childhood experiences, society, and social expectations may have, positive self-talk and the adoption of productive beliefs are still within reach. The law of attraction is continually at work. High self-esteem breeds favorable and supportive circumstances and opportunities, while the embracement of victimhood attracts undesirable situations that are well disposed to negative beliefs.

Reason #3: Victim Complexes Kill Productivity.

The entertainment of a victim complex is the psychological equivalent of living life with a ball and chain attached to one's ankle. This destructive, harmful mentality does absolutely nothing to boost life progression, accomplishments, or achievements. As previously stated, each person attracts what they believe.

As one goes through life, they should always be striving for productivity, success, and greatness. How can this occur when one is under the misguided belief that they deserve to suffer? According to Forbes, some of the most effective ways to boost productivity are to reward oneself after the accomplishment of a goal, embrace ambition, and seek out help when needed.

However, each of these methods is more likely to breed maximum results when implemented by a self-assured person with a healthy level of self-esteem. Accomplishments require hard work while ambition is fueled by the desire to better oneself. A person suffering from a victim complex is significantly less likely to put in the work needed to increase their productivity. After all, why would someone who embraces suffering want to do well in life, thus ending their self-inflicted persecution?

Why does productivity matter, someone suffering from a victim complex may ask? Well, first and foremost, one's level of productivity dramatically determines how society views them. It can also impact employment opportunities, financial burdens, personal relationships, and other paramount aspects of life.

Reason #4: You Were Put On This Earth To Be Amazing!

While the negative impacts of victim complexes should be more than enough to eviscerate toxic victim complexes, another absolute truth remains: you were born to be amazing.

Regardless of what you may be feeling, dealing with, or working through, it is highly essential for you to know that you were born to be phenomenal, spectacular, and amazing. There is no other person like you, and whether you realize it or not, that is your greatest strength.


Victimhood is often bred by certain experiences and life circumstances. However, in times of trouble, positive affirmations can work wonders. A significant part of our beliefs is impacted by what we consistently tell ourselves. So whenever one feels themselves slipping into the trap of victimhood, they should repeat the following affirmations:

I am stronger than any challenge.

I am in control of my life.

I deserve the best.

I was born to be great.

I can do anything.

Whether one realizes it or not, each of the above affirmations is accurate. You were born to move mountains, achieve great things, and live to the fullest, not wallow in martyrdom and victimhood. You are better than that. Sometimes, it can be easy to lose sight of this, but hardships do not diminish your destiny. Often, challenges are merely opportunities in disguise.

Victim complexes are incredibly toxic illusions. Suffering and persecution do not ease burdens. Happiness, contentment, and joy are not negative emotions or traits of selfishness. You deserve to be successful and in good spirits. Self-inflicted suffering is not atonement or a healthy means of dealing with guilt, difficulties, or other issues.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a victim complex or feelings or martyrdom, seeking out help is the most viable and prolific solution. This is not a sign of weakness, but an indicator of strength. Regaining a strong sense of self-requires work and courage. This should be commended, not feared.

A Closing Note

An ongoing and habitual indulgence of victimhood is extremely dangerous and will inevitably lead to disaster if not swiftly halted. If you believe that you or a loved one may be suffering from a victim complex, it is highly critical to know that you are NOT alone.

BetterHelp exists to help by providing convenient and easily accessible care from licensed professionals. If this is of interest to you, you can get started by clicking here. In addition to kind-hearted, caring psychologists, therapists, and social workers, BetterHelp also has countless testimonials, and success stories from individuals who lives have been transformed due to our services.


It is wholly essential for you to know that you are not alone. If you believe a victim complex is impacting your life, please reach out to the team at BetterHelp. You are only one click away from living your best life.

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