Devictimizing to Disempower a Traumatic Experience

Devictimization is a powerful tool during the reconstruction process following a traumatic experience. Continue reading to find out more about it!
Devictimizing to Disempower a Traumatic Experience
María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez

Written and verified by the psychologist María Alejandra Castro Arbeláez.

Last update: 21 December, 2022

Victims of a traumatic experience go through a lot of pain and suffering. The worse part is people’s attitudes towards them often contribute to their revictimization and it hurts them even more. This is why it’s important to be aware of and help them gain strength so they can recover. Devictimizing really helps people.

This is about embarking on a path to transformation in which the traumatic experience isn’t what defines the victim. Doing it is possible, even though it’s no simple matter. In today’s article, you’ll learn what you can do and how to go about it. In addition, you’ll learn more about resilience, a powerful tool that can benefit victims. We invite you to join us on this tour.

“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that’s mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.”

-Mr. Rogers-

Devictimizing after a traumatic experience

A victim is a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action. The damage can be physical, psychological, social, and material. The truth is that one or more areas of the person’s health are affected after it. People can be victims of all sorts of things. For example, a natural disaster, a rape, a psychological assault due to armed conflict, and many others.

All these processes generate victims, people who’ll have to live with some type of damage or pain after a traumatic experience. This experience usually comes along with thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that will prove unfavorable if maintained over time.

The importance of devictimizing is to help them stop feeling like a victim so they can regain control over their life. It consists of endowing the victim with elements that’ll get them out of that frame of mind. In other words, so they won’t remain positioned as a victim, or take advantage and exaggerate their situation. This is because, sometimes, victims construct their narratives from their condition as such and they must cease and proceed to see themselves beyond it.

This doesn’t mean the victim consciously wants to continue as such. Oftentimes they perpetuate their state due to the fear associated with what happened to them. Many of them are in love with their pain and want to protect it.

Devictimization is a process that implies an adequate intervention model for the victim to transcend their condition. For it to occur, someone near them must emphasize the hows and whys. In addition, the victim can also do it by working on themselves with or without support. Above all, by focusing on the responsibility of taking care of themselves.

A crying woman.

How to devictimize the victim

For starters, the victim must want to embark on the path of devictimizing. Thus, one of the first steps is to recognize self-victimization. Doing so will help you see everything from another perspective and take action. Let’s look at some ways:

  • Recognize emotions to understand how they manifest themselves and, little by little, take control. To do this, it’s also necessary to navigate through self-knowledge, so we’ll know where we’re going and how we are.
  • Say goodbye to masks. It’s necessary to find the genuine self to implement an attitude that goes beyond the situation that led us to be victims.
  • Detect self-destructive thoughts to stop them. Thus, we get out of cognitive stagnation.
  • Put aside the passive attitude. This helps us to act. The idea is to lead us to take control of our life.

Also, we can begin to see everything from another perspective. A kinder one in which we rescue ourselves and begin to show ourselves as we truly are and to take advantage of everything we can offer to others and ourselves. It’s about rebuilding ourselves.

It isn’t a simple job, but we can build it little by little. For this, we’ll have to attend to our affective, social, physical, and spiritual world. Remember that health is integral and that taking control of our lives means taking charge of ourselves.

Fingers pointing at a woman.

The power of resilience after a traumatic experience

People can cultivate resilience and you can bring out the best in you through it. It consists of the ability to overcome problems. In other words, to face them. It has to do with all areas of your development. Therefore, it’s influenced by both your biology and the environment.

You can use various strategies to boost your resilience. For example, through narratives and art, you can create communication bridges that allow you to show and understand what happens to you. Also, you can go to group and individual psychotherapy. You can even see it through the lens of augmented reality, as suggested by Ibeth Johana Acosta, a specialist in legal and forensic psychology.

When you count on your ability for resilience, you’re able to turn obstacles into learning experiences. Thus, you detach yourself from the position of victim and begin to construct new narratives that add a kinder meaning to your experience.

Cyrulnik and his colleagues speak in-depth about this issue in their book Resilience: How to Gain Strength from Childhood Adversity. Among other issues, they underline that there’s a psychological option for life in victimization processes and invite the reader to transcend the psycho-pathologizing view of the subject — both from a professional and personal perspective.


In short, resilience helps a victim recover and allows them a more authentic encounter with others and with themselves.

In addition, it can be conducive to the construction of new narratives that foster a world with a meaning full of learning and new landscapes. This endows it with a new meaning, one that goes beyond the traumatic experience. Doesn’t it sound like a wonderful way to transcend?

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Acosta Rubiano, I.J. (2018). La resiliencia, una mirada hacia las víctimas del conflicto armado colombiano.

  • Cyrulnik, B., Manaciaux, M., Sánchez, E., Colmenares, M.E., Balegno, L., Olaya,, M.M., Cano, F. (2006). Centro Internacional de investigación Clínico-Psicológica (CEIC).

  • Fernández, A.A. (2017). Víctima y desvictimización. Tesis Doctoral, Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.