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Yin and Yang symbol, representing the balance and interplay of opposing forces, as explored in the context of the victim-perpetrator dynamic on our blog.

The Dynamics of Victim and Perpetrator
A Deep Insight

It is Time to Break the Cycle of Suffering


Within every individual lies the role of both victim and perpetrator. These roles are deeply embedded in our personal experiences and the collective consciousness of our society. In this blog post, I aim not only to shed light on how and why we slip into these roles, but also to show how we can break free from these patterns. This will involve the perspective of Family Constellation, providing us with deep insights into the generational consequences of this dynamic and what it takes to heal them.


The question of why we slip into the roles of victim or perpetrator leads us into the complex realms of human psyche and our social structures. I will explore how our early life experiences, family backgrounds, and societal norms and values contribute to us adopting certain roles. It's about understanding that these roles are often unconscious strategies to cope with pain, trauma, and uncertainty.

Personal development plays a central role in moving beyond this victim-perpetrator dynamic. Through self-reflection, recognizing and understanding the roots of our actions and emotions, we can begin to free ourselves from old patterns. This journey is not only one of self-discovery but also of letting go of destructive roles that hold us back.


Family Constellation offers unique insights into the entanglements that have developed in our families and across generations. It helps us uncover and resolve hidden bonds and familial patterns to stop the repetition of harmful cycles. This work allows us to gain a new understanding of our past and pave a healing and growth-oriented path for ourselves and future generations.

In this post, I will delve into how the victim-perpetrator dynamic manifests in various areas of life and what we as individuals can do to break these patterns. I invite you to read this text slowly and mindfully. Take your time and breaks to reflect on your own life and allow emerging emotions. This self-reflection is an essential part of the healing process.

Together, we will explore the deep layers of our personality and take concrete steps towards living a conscious, fulfilling, and loving life. This journey is not just a path to personal growth but also paves a way of healing and development for ourselves and future generations. I look forward to accompanying you on this journey and discovering new perspectives and possibilities together.

Explanation of the Victim-Perpetrator Dynamic

The victim-perpetrator dynamic describes the interaction and relationship between a person who suffers and incurs damage (the victim) and another person who causes this harm (the perpetrator). This interaction is primarily characterized by an imbalance of power and control. Victims often experience a range of negative emotions such as fear, disgust, sadness, guilt, and anger, which weaken their self-esteem and can lead to long-term psychological and emotional difficulties. On the other hand, the perpetrator, in many cases, was once a victim themselves and now continues the cycle of abuse and harm. This is often due to them also carrying emotions such as anger, sorrow, fear, guilt, and disgust, making them feel weak and vulnerable inside.

Thus, they try to gain control over situations by repeating the past, only this time they find themselves in the role of the perpetrator.


For instance, if someone was physically abused in childhood, they are very likely to develop feelings of insecurity and worthlessness due to the impressions from that time. Certainly, there will also be deep anger in this person – anger about what they experienced and the perpetrator at that time. This intense energy cannot be suppressed and may manifest as bouts of anger or passive aggression towards others. Paradoxically, this anger also brings a sense of inner security and serves as a protective mechanism for a vulnerable part of the self that feels deep sorrow about the experience. The perception of being angry or passively aggressive is often a protective mechanism attempting to hide this inner vulnerability. In the role of the perpetrator, a deceptive sense of protection and security is created. However, to find true healing, it is crucial to look behind this anger and provide safety and comfort to the vulnerable part within us.


This development usually originates from a victim role, often rooted in childhood. The more problematic an experience in the past, especially in childhood, the more likely it is that the person will later adopt the role of the perpetrator. It is helpful to understand that we are not born as perpetrators but are shaped by our environment and our experiences. The more burdensome the past, the more difficult it is for a person to process the resulting beliefs and emotions. Adopting the role of the perpetrator thus becomes an easy way to gain security and attention.


We also live in a world where, in many respects, it is accepted to assume the role of a perpetrator. The capitalist system teaches us that it is about achieving wealth and prosperity for oneself, regardless of the resulting victims, such as nature, animals, and other people. As a member of a religion, one often views one's own religion as the only right one, an attitude that has led to division and violation of human rights, and even wars. Both systems, religion and capitalism, are based on the role of the individual. In these systems, it is rarely taught how to recognize and develop one's true strength through self-reflection. This often leads people to seek happiness and recognition outside themselves and, due to a lack of self-knowledge, to despise other beliefs or ways of life. This dynamic contributes to keeping the systems alive, as individuals feel safe and secure in these systems, rather than questioning or changing them.


A prominent example from our recent past is patriarchy, which for decades systematically pushed women into a subordinate role. This long-standing dominance created, among other things, a deep anger towards men. This often suppressed anger was passed down from generation to generation. In the past, it was usually not possible for women to express their anger directly towards men or to criticize them. As a result, this anger often initially turned against another masculine presence in the household, the son. The woman, responsible for the upbringing of the children, conveyed to the son that it is unhealthy and wrong to be a man. This transfer usually happens unconsciously and can manifest in the son's subconscious through statements or a certain energetic attitude towards the husband.

The anger a mother feels towards her son is often not directed against him, but rather an expression of the suppressed anger towards patriarchy, men of past generations, and possibly her own experiences. The transfer of certain beliefs against men is absorbed by the son, and thus he will question his own masculine energy within himself.

A young man who misinterprets his masculine energy, however, will not be able to find a healthy way to deal with women and will likely evade true love and "use" women to feel validated. This, in turn, makes him a perpetrator.

In today's times, we see how the pendulum in the "MeToo" debate completely swings in the opposite direction. 

Women used the media to expose their perpetrators. 

For the first time in modern history, women were able to strike back and take revenge.

However, this leads to an even greater identification problem in the upcoming generation of men, as they now also question their masculine energy in their social environment and it is partially seen as toxic. This results in a deep inner insecurity, which they compensate for by seeking external strength and control. 

This compensation will again push them into the role of a perpetrator. 

Similarly, a daughter may adopt certain beliefs of previous generations. I have written a concrete example of this in the section "What Happens in the Victim-Perpetrator Dynamic from the Perspective of Family Constellation."


As we can see, this is an apparently unstoppable, never-ending spiral. 

We must understand that this dynamic lives from these two polarities. As soon as we find ourselves in one of them, we strive for balance and inevitably move in the opposite direction. This pendulum movement is the fundamental principle of the dual world we live in, and is also referred to as "Yin and Yang" in Eastern philosophy.

This oscillation between polarities occurs between countries, groups, individuals, and also within ourselves. 

Recognizing and accepting both roles in ourselves, especially accepting that each of us harbors a perpetrator and accepting this part of us instead of condemning it, is the first step to freeing ourselves from this dynamic.


To break this cycle, it is crucial to identify situations in our lives where we were victims or acted as perpetrators. It is important, when diving into these past situations, to allow emerging emotions without mentally judging the situation or involved individuals. Only by processing these emotions and ultimately opening up to the perpetrator – which means not harboring negative emotions towards them – can we let go of a traumatic event and look unburdened into the future. In the following sections, I will detail why it is essential to open up to the perpetrator to integrate traumatic events into our lives.


It is also crucial, as an uninvolved third party, not to sympathize with either the victim or the perpetrator. This neutral stance allows us to objectively view the situation without becoming entangled in the victim-perpetrator dynamic – I will elaborate on this later in the text in the section "Compassion for Victims: Consequences and Considerations." It is also necessary to look at situations in which we find ourselves in a victim role in life.

The Psychology of the Victim

The dynamic between victim and perpetrator is as old as humanity itself. A look into the animal kingdom shows that this dynamic plays a natural role in the struggle for survival: A predator, the perpetrator, hunts the weaker animal, the victim. Unlike many humans, a surviving prey animal does not remain permanently in a victim mentality. A gazelle that escapes a lion does not judge the event as wrong and therefore does not generate lasting anger, hate, or fear within itself. It simply returns to its herd, without sharing its near-predation story to seek sympathy or recognition. Instead, it shakes off the energy that helped it flee and continues its life without evaluating the incident.

If animals reacted to trauma like humans, we would see depressed prey animals worldwide with lowered heads, having given up on themselves and life, trapped in constant victimhood.

For those interested in delving deeper into trauma and somatic release, I highly recommend the excellent book 'Waking the Tiger' by Peter Levine.


The natural ability to process traumatic events in humans is hindered by the complex functions of the frontal cortex, responsible for higher cognitive processes. This is one of the reasons why we tend to seek out friends and family to share our experiences, hoping for sympathy, recognition, and affection. The more severe the event, the more we can slide into this victim role. We seek the affection of others to feel better and cope with the experience. However, this often leads to a victim mentality from which integration of the event is not possible. It is not fundamentally wrong to seek comfort and affection from others; it can give us strength and a new will to live, but for the integration of traumatic experiences, it is necessary to become aware of one's own strength and to learn and grow from the event. Love from others only makes us feel better temporarily and can lead to codependency. It is also important to understand that seeking affection from a victim mentality often occurs in moments when self-esteem and self-love are weak. In such moments, there is a risk of quickly becoming dependent on the love of others. This dependency can in turn lead to us feeling validated in our victim role, making it harder to break out of this pattern and integrate the experience. 


As an example, consider the incident in Austria where a child was locked up and abused by her father in a cellar for 14 years. When she was freed, there was a huge outcry in the media. The atrocities the girl suffered are terrible and unimaginable. However, media coverage will not help the girl. Imagine you were this girl, seeing all these articles and news about your own story. It would only make you fall deeper into a hole. What is really needed is support and security, instead of being constantly reminded of the atrocities experienced.

Compassion for Victims: Consequences and Considerations

In our society, it is common for an uninvolved third party to sympathize with the victim. However, this stance has profound consequences. By adopting a position of sympathy, one often unconsciously develops a superior attitude. One judges the situation without being involved and without deep knowledge of the perpetrator's background.


Sympathizing with the victim means judging the entire situation, which places one in a superior position. In doing so, the perpetrator is often seen solely in their role as the perpetrator, which classifies their personality as fundamentally wrong and inferior. However, a look into the perpetrator's past often reveals that they themselves were a victim in their childhood. Shaped by deep inner wounds, this person seeks security, which they believe to be found in controlling situations and people, often repeating patterns from their childhood - this time, however, from the perspective of the perpetrator.


Sympathizing with the victim not only shows a superior attitude but also conveys a sense of control. All these attitudes are typical characteristics of a perpetrator. As can be seen, we slip into an internal perpetrator role as soon as we sympathize with the victim.

A clear example of the impact of taking sides is international conflicts, where the extent of the effects is easier to illustrate when we choose a side. As soon as we adopt an attitude towards a country, regime, or government, we often develop deep feelings of hatred, aversion, and misunderstanding. However, this reflects the reasons for conflicts between countries.

We often wonder why wars still exist between countries, and here we find one of the reasons. As soon as I judge a person as inferior or bad, I generate the associated emotions within myself. These feelings of hatred and aversion that we nurture within ourselves are not limited to the individual but become part of the collective consciousness. It is crucial to recognize this responsibility and understand that each of us contributes to global events with our internal conflicts. By opening ourselves to both parties and resolving our internal conflicts, we can consciously cultivate positive, empathetic attitudes, which are essential for healing and peace – both on a personal and global level. This change must begin within the individual: We can only change the world by starting with ourselves.

Such an inner attitude of peace and neutrality allows us to move beyond prejudices and hostilities. Thus, we make a revolutionary contribution to changing the world. By learning to view conflicts between countries, people in our circle of friends, or in the family from a neutral perspective, we open up a new, indispensable path for humanity – a path that leads to deeper understanding and compassion for all involved.


However, this also requires an inward look. After all, we condemn people on the outside that we have not accepted within ourselves. Carl Gustav Jung taught that when we condemn a murderer, we should look inside to find the murderer within us and come to peace with it. This teaching suggests that everything we condemn or reject in others is often a mirror of our own inner, unaccepted parts. Jung emphasized the need to integrate these shadow aspects of our personality to achieve a holistic and balanced self. By accepting and integrating these parts into our subconscious, we can achieve a peaceful self and thus contribute to a peaceful world.

This sympathizing, whether with victims, in international conflicts, or different groups, however, has its roots in our DNA. The need for group belonging is a fundamental human need, originating from our life in tribes where belonging was essential for survival. When we sympathize with a victim, it often comes from an unconscious desire for belonging. This kind of sympathy activates our sympathetic nervous system, giving us a sense of security but often only superficially soothing our primal fears. However, this type of sympathy brings neither long-term benefit to the third party nor the victim.


For spiritual and personal development, it is important to confront these primal fears. By not identifying with either the victim or the perpetrator, we confront our primal fear. Feeling this fear and realizing that we are no longer in danger can contribute to a strong sense of security within ourselves.


Moreover, this neutral stance can help the victim step out of their role and integrate the experience into their life. At the same time, it is possible that the perpetrator is positively influenced by reflecting on their inner self and thus their past.


Every system we enter – be it a religion, a club, a circle of friends, or that of a victim group – also includes an energetic field. A field that consists of resignation, feelings of inferiority, and mutual dependency, as in a victim group, is energetically weak.


When an uninvolved third party confirms and pities the victim in their role, this only reinforces the victim's belief in the injustice of life. This confirmation can trigger a dangerous downward spiral. Since the subconscious tends to internalize unprocessed experiences, it can lead to situations where the person finds themselves in a victim role again. This leads to a dwindling trust in life and fellow human beings. Only when we view every challenge life presents to us as a lesson and an opportunity for personal development can we free ourselves from the victim role and truly learn and grow.


It becomes clear that sympathizing with a victim can only provide temporary relief. In the long run, it is not helpful for either the victim or the sympathizer. Instead, a co-dependency is created, which intensifies the feeling of helplessness without the other person.

What Happens in the Victim-Perpetrator Dynamic from the Perspective of Family Constellation

Thanks to Family Constellation, we see how the above-mentioned examples energetically manifest in a family. In constellations, we can observe how an existing conflict between victim and perpetrator leads the victim to subconsciously feel energetically drawn to the perpetrator, distancing themselves from their actual family through this energetic connection. Consequently, the perpetrator, due to this bond, becomes assimilated into the family, becoming an energetic part of it. The more severe the incident and the more intense the ensuing emotions, the stronger the bond between victim and perpetrator, and the more the individuals are integrated into their respective family systems.


The reason for this lasting bond is that emotions such as anger, hate, sorrow, guilt, and fear towards the perpetrator are often deeply rooted in the subconscious and as energetic blockages in the body. If these emotions remain unprocessed, they can affect us for a lifetime and even be passed on to the next generation. However, emotions are energies, and it is precisely these energies that energetically bind us to people towards whom we harbor these feelings.

This perception of interpersonal connection, however, is usually only noticed when we feel strongly attracted to someone. This connection, created by love, is a clear example of how emotions can function as binding energies. Such a bond is not only a symbol of deep connection but also a source of strength that enables couples to go through difficult times together. It creates a strong foundation of support and mutual understanding essential for overcoming challenges.

But it's not only positive emotions that have this binding force. Negative emotions such as anger, hate, guilt, and fear are energies that can create an energetic bond between people. Once awareness is directed towards it, it becomes apparent that this bond exists with people against whom we harbor negative emotions.

Take a moment, close your eyes, and imagine someone you love. You will probably feel a strong attraction to this person and perceive the energetic connection between you two. Now imagine turning away from this person and walking in a different direction. Observe what happens in your body: How strongly do you still feel drawn to this person? What influence does this person, even in their absence, have on you? Then let go of this person in your mind and imagine a person against whom you hold anger, dislike, or other negative emotions. Look them in the eyes and observe what happens in your body. Then turn away from this person as well, step by step moving away from them to look into your own future. To what extent can you step into your own future without feeling the presence of this person? Again, observe your body: How strongly do you still feel drawn to this person? What influence does this person, even in their absence, have on you?


However, this bond affects not only the individual but also has profound implications for the family system. Often unnoticed, the strong energetic connection to the perpetrator and the situation leads one to be emotionally less present and available for the family. Furthermore, unprocessed victim-perpetrator conflicts are passed on to later generations in the family and played out unconsciously among them. This dynamic results in a situation where a person in the family is unconsciously drawn into the role of the victim and another into that of the perpetrator, perpetuating the conflict. This process can lead to a cyclical pattern where the roles of victim and perpetrator continually re-manifest within the family, thus shaping the family system over generations.

Here is an example from one of my sessions:

A mother banished her violent ex-partner, the father of her first child, from her life. The subsequent children, including the client, knew him only as a threatening shadow, from brief stories told by the mother. In the constellation, it became clear that the son felt drawn to this ex-partner and adopted his aggressive pattern, which manifested in attacks on his younger sister, the client. The client unconsciously took on the victim role, binding her closer to her mother and making her the target of her brother's violent outbursts, who unconsciously tried to integrate the ex-partner. She also internalized her mother's beliefs, including the assumption that men are aggressive, untrustworthy, and need to be controlled. These beliefs, which she carried into adulthood, had profound effects on her relationship life. She unconsciously attracted partners who reflected these toxic patterns, thus unconsciously repeating the family trauma.


As the client confronted the ex-husband and felt all the emotions her mother had towards him, the energy in the familial cycle began to relax. Through the realization that she had adopted her mother's beliefs about men, she was able to return them to her mother. The constellation also showed that the ex-husband felt a lot of love for the woman but grew up in a family of Holocaust survivors, carrying much pain and suffering. 

After the representative person of the brother expressed that he tried to integrate the ex-partner and saw the sister open up to him, he was able to let go of the role. He felt stronger drawn to his actual family and stood by his biological father's side for the first time.


This example illustrates the profound consequences that arise when we try to exclude someone who is a significant part of our family from our lives. It demonstrates how the unconscious transfer and adoption of the roles of victim and perpetrator create a spiral of suffering that continues through subsequent generations.


We realize that breaking this cycle is only possible when we open ourselves to the perpetrator – be it the partner or ex-partner. However, this does not imply that we have to sit down with them and discuss the events, especially in cases of physical abuse where physical separation is necessary. It is more about exploring our own thoughts and feelings and dealing with them. It is important to understand that our partner is merely a trigger that shows us aspects of ourselves that need integration. In a relationship, it is easy to make the partner responsible for our emotional state, but this leads to a dead-end. The only way to a healthy relationship with oneself and the partner is to look inside and take responsibility for one's own feelings and emotions.


Through this confrontation, we open up the possibility of freeing ourselves from entrenched patterns and finding a path to healing and reconciliation both within ourselves and in our relationships with others. Ultimately, we have all inherited behavioral patterns and belief systems from our parents and previous generations. We can only process these patterns when we deeply experience the energetic blockade of these beliefs in our body. It is mentally necessary to detach from these beliefs and replace them with positive convictions.


It is also helpful to understand and accept that there is no such thing as a 'wrong' relationship; it is always exactly the right partner at the right time. Ultimately, I am the person who feels attracted to a particular partner, and it is my subconscious that makes this choice very carefully. This does not happen by chance but is based on a deep inner logic that reflects our personal experiences, needs, and lessons we need to learn in our life. My subconscious acts like a compass, leading me to the people who offer me the opportunity to develop, recognize hidden aspects of myself, and integrate unfulfilled emotional needs.


However, we often do not have to look outside our internal family to find a victim-perpetrator dynamic.

Our deepest conflicts are rooted in our genetic family, especially in the relationship with our parents. Deep in our subconscious, all the behavioral patterns that we learned as children in the parental home are stored. We have also unconsciously taken up our parents' relationship with each other as a prime example of interpersonal relationships. We adopted the behaviors of the father as the masculine ideal and those of the mother as the feminine ideal. These patterns deeply influence our interpersonal relationships, our self-image, and our belief systems. We are an extension of our parents until we confront ourselves and our deeply rooted belief system.


As adults, we often look back critically on this childhood and question the behavior of our parents. This reflection and thus the judgment of our parents can lead to a feeling of rejection that goes so far that some completely break off contact with their parents.

But rejecting our parents inevitably leads to the rejection of parts of ourselves. However, we are not only shaped by their belief systems but also biologically half our father and half our mother. Such a rejection only leads to internal pain and self-loathing.


With a disregard for our parents, we also deeply enter a victim mentality, blaming our parents for the person we are. However, we are responsible for our lives; we can freely decide at any moment who we want to be. However, it is always easier to point someone in life as the guilty party (perpetrator role), so we do not have to take responsibility for our own lives. This only leads to personal suffering and ultimately to the repetition of familial traumas. By taking responsibility for my mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual state, I can reflect on myself at any moment. This self-reflection allows me to take responsibility for my inner state and from this centered state, I can decide who I want to be in the here and now.


In childhood, we were indeed victims of circumstances, unable to reflect on what was "right or wrong." We literally saw our parents as gods and adopted all their behavioral patterns, belief systems, weaknesses, and strengths.

We must understand that our parents only passed on to us what they knew from their childhood. Exactly the kind of love they received, they also pass on, and everything they give to their children is a form of love. This is, of course, difficult to understand in any form of rejection and abuse. In constellations, it often becomes clear how much pain and insecurity lie behind such actions in the perpetrator. Nevertheless, it is always an act of love, but this love is precisely the form that this person also experienced in their childhood. Seen in this way, all generations are victims of victims, but now it is time to break this cycle. This is only possible if we take responsibility for our actions. To do this, however, we must look inside ourselves and face our shadow.


As we have also learned, it is not possible to exclude a person from the family without far-reaching consequences. Since every family member has the same right to belong to the family, excluding a person will have unforeseen impacts. Later generations often try unconsciously to integrate the excluded family members through their own assumptions, behaviors, and actions. This process can manifest in various forms.

Most disputes, mental and physical illnesses, limiting belief systems, or overwhelming emotions that occur in the family are actually connected to the unresolved issues and relationships of our ancestors. We unconsciously carry the burden of past generations with us. These inherited emotional and psychological patterns influence our life until we actively confront them and begin to heal them.

Invitation to Transformation: Your Path to True Self-Discovery

Exploring the victim-perpetrator dynamic in our lives and family history is often a key to personal freedom and profound transformation. Each step on this journey of self-discovery and healing brings us closer to our true self, free from the shackles of the past.


However, this path requires not only dedication and courage but also the willingness to delve deeply into one's own subconscious and confront one's shadow aspects. This challenging process can raise many questions and doubts, as it encourages us to deal with our emotions differently than we have learned so far. These emotions lead us to our deeply rooted, subconscious beliefs.


As an experienced Transformational Coach and expert in Family Constellation, I offer my support on this exciting journey. I combine profound psychological insights with spiritual practices to help you connect with and integrate the hidden parts of yourself. My work aims at how you can rediscover yourself and find your way back to your true power.

If you feel connected to this text and are ready to embark on the journey to yourself, I warmly invite you to book your complimentary initial consultation with me. This conversation will provide us with the opportunity to discuss your situation and explore how I can support you on your individual path of healing and self-discovery.

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