This is my continued exploration on what I call the Trauma Triangle. Look for a Part II coming soon.
We have been raised in a traumatic world. To some degree everyone alive has been and is influenced by a global playing out of a Trauma Triangle. The Trauma Triangle is the archetypal relationships between three aspects of human consciousness: The Victim, The Perpetrator, and The Savior. When we are identifying within the triangle, we are not living in present time and don’t have full access to our creativity or life force energy. We are more likely to view reality from a lens of fear, survival, and inner-struggle. We are more likely to make decisions for our lives based on these contractions. It’s important to note that we all have all three of these archetypes within us, interacting with each other, then playing out in the world. I’ll talk more about this at the end of this post.
THE TRAUMA TRIANGLE IDENTITIES (OR ARCHETYPES)
Identity of the Victim:
- Seeks out saviors for energy
- Unconsciously seeks out perpetrators to give proof to their limiting beliefs
- Sense of helplessness and powerlessness
- Dependency upon others
- Gives power and authority to others
- Can be self-righteous in pointing blame to others (including systems)
The Victim Identity as a Group
Same qualities as above but nation to nation or group to group. Example: Any group who has been oppressed, enslaved, attempted genocide, or imprisoned. This also includes the collective consciousness of women.
Identity of the Perpetrator
- Identifies often as a victim deep down
- Feels sense of entitlement
- Off-loads their suffering onto others
- Feels self-righteous in role of punisher/corrector of wrongs
- Drawn to victim identity people – easy way to get energy
- Unable to be accountable for harmful actions and doesn’t apologize
- Sees domination as a game or competition to win at
The Perpetrator Identity as a Group
Same qualities as above but nation to nation or group to group. Example: Country or group of people who have been oppressed then rises up and oppresses their perpetrators in revenge or to protect from another cycle of oppression happening again. Dictatorship, Oligarchy, Militant groups, some Police.
Identity of the Savior
- Unconsciously driven to alleviate the suffering of others
- Sees people as unable to help themselves
- Sense of hyper-responsibility and urgency
- Takes on the pain of others and gets sick
- Behaviors and choices can lead to patterns of dependency with victims
- Invests time and energy in changing perpetrators, even if this requires self-neglect and self-abandonment. Savior justifies receiving abuse because they are obsessed with their agenda. This is different from the Victim, who feels powerless in abusive situations and not at choice around it.
The Savior Identity as a Group
Same qualities as above but nation to nation, group to group. Example: Country or group of people that has agenda to relieve suffering, injustice or oppression and can often get lost in self-righteous stance and become engaged in conflicts to get their agendas met. * A group such as Firefighters would not be a Savior Identity but more of a Hero Identity; portraying wisdom, intuition, selflessness, intelligence and team work to meet their agendas. They are not aiming for dependency from others and they do not see people as victims. They are responding to the possible danger of fire that could harm people and property. The do not see “fire” as a perpetrator. Big difference.
Identity of the Martyr
- The martyr is the victim, perpetrator and savior combined into one.
- They believe they are never respected and feel taken for granted after all they give. They often feel resentful if they don’t feel recognized for their selflessness or service. (victim)
- They often guilt trip, manipulate, or shame those they serve, creating harm (perpetrator)
- Yet they also deeply care about others and want them to be happy/healthy/whatever… (savior)
The Martyr Identity as a Group
Let your imagination fun wild!
Most of us come from ancestry that includes conquerors and conquered people. You might find, if you ever really explore your ancestry, that there is quite a bit of ancestral trauma held in your lineage. From the oppressions of religious dogma and the cruelty of missionaries, to monarchies and dictatorships, to outright genocide agendas. You’ll likely encounter ancestors who went through slavery, sexism, classism, and it goes on.
The study of DNA called Epigenetics shows us that we carry the emotional patterning of the trauma of our ancestors embedded in our own bodies and psyches. This has proven to contribute to a likelihood of repeating similar traumatic patterns in our own lives. Then we also, or course, have the influence of trauma from our own lives – whether from a dysfunctional family environment, our experiences of institutionalized education, or being in a job with a clear hierarchy where the bottom tiers are expendable. I am emphasizing this because I want you to know, you’re not crazy. Many of us have felt out of control of our lives or like we were born on the wrong planet. “This is all wrong!” Well, in a way – it is. We were not designed to be trapped in trauma for endless generations. This is not the divine plan of the Creator for humanity. Recognizing the Trauma Triangle identities within you is the first step in freeing yourself from it.
What is important is to notice where and when your victim, perpetrator, and savior feelings come out. Under what pressures or triggers? Without intending so, we are constantly labeling the people, or even things, in our lives as one of these archetypes.
JOIN ME IN AN EXERCISE OF EXPLORATION
Take a piece of paper and draw two columns. The heading of the column on the left is “Other” – the column on the right title “Me”.
I’m going to offer a word or subject and in the first column, write your label of it – V for victim, P for perpetrator or S for savior. Let’s also add in there N for neutral.
Don’t think about it, just let your body reaction decide which category it is. So you are labeling the subject – not yourself.
Some of the words I’m going to say could be provocative – No one is going to see this but you – so be honest. Be real. Don’t put down what you think you should to be a good person. That won’t help you grow.
For example: If the word is “Government”, and you feel fear come up, or resistance – likely you are experiencing the powerlessness of the victim, which means you’re labeling the Government as a perpetrator. Place a “P” in the “OTHER” column.
We will go through the OTHER column first, then do it all again for the ME column. Let’s begin.
Your spouse or parter/lover
Your Grandfather on your father’s side
Your employer or current contractor
Social Security system in USA
The Dalai Lama
The Pope and Vatican
The current United States Government
A Homeless Person
Now go down your list again and write an identity in the ME column that represents how you’re reacting to these things. So if you have something labeled as perpetrator, are you the victim or savior?
Once you’re complete, count out how many V’s, P’s, and S’s you have. This will give you a hint as to what lens you are perceiving reality through the most.
AN IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER
Each role – Victim, Perpetrator and Savior – also has contained within it, the other two. Usually one identity is strongest and that’s the lens you see the world through. The outside world may have another label for you that is opposed to your own. For example, Hitler saw himself as a savior of the Aryan race and a protector of future generations. Much of the world saw him as a perpetrator. And yet he likely also unconsciously acted out from a young place in him that felt betrayed and hurt by his father. The victim was underneath it all. And that is true for most of us.
Our inner-child experienced the lack of core needs being met, due to deficit in our families or society. From that we develop a deeply ingrained pattern in our subconscious minds – hard-wired into us – that we’re not good enough, that we’re damaged, etc. This is the victim identity. Most of us will most strongly identify as a Victim when we dig down deep enough. When we identify as a victim, whether consciously or unconsciously, we develop masks or pseudo-solutions to counter our feelings of low-self worth and unhappiness. But to survive in this world, we must be accepted by society – therefore we create inner-standards of what it is to be good and even perfect. We also create an internalized system of punishments and rewards similar to those we were raised in. So we become saviors (rewarders) or perpetrators (punishers) inside our own minds. We develop complex inner-archetypes, like these, all relating to each other in our subconscious; struggling to get their agendas met. For each of them the bottom line is survival, but they each have a different idea of how to get there. By being a hero, by being a bully, by being a saint, by being the clown who disarms possible perpetrators with humor.
When we do our inner work, we must be willing to meet and witness each of these identities within us with patience and compassion. Our job is to know when we are in a Victim, Perpetrator, or Savior “story” in our minds, and then to choose to act outside the confines of all of them. Our job is to know that ultimately, we can choose to live outside the narrow identities of the trauma-triangle and perceive reality from a vaster place. I call this place of perception : Adult Consciousness.
As our whole Adult Selves, detached from the trauma triangle, we can go back into our memories and bring illumination, forgiveness, compassion and insight into those painful situations. We can “elevate” the vibration of those memories and create a new healthy patterning in our subconscious mind. And … we can engage in our present lives and world from a non-defensive place, with an unguarded heart, as the Director of Our Own Lives.
I will be adding more articles on this topic. There is much more to explore, such as : Where did this cycle start in the first place? and How do I free myself from the TT, if I live in an environment of oppression?
More to come!