Montana Catholic Schools Weekly

March 22, 2015

The Victim Triangle in our Schools

I came across an article a couple of months ago that has had tremendous relevance to my understanding of our schools. In “The Three Faces of Victim—An Overview of the Drama Triangle,” Lynne Forrest outlines three roles of victimhood (victim, persecutor, and rescuer). The link to the article:

I find her analysis relevant to student learning and to adult interactions. Forrest’s article provides insight into how students deal with adversity in the classroom and in their lives, as well as how adults (teacher-student, teacher-teacher, administrator-teacher, parent-student, parent-staff, parent-parent) deal with each other. An excerpt:

Whether we know it, or not, most of us react to life as vic­tims. When­ever we refuse to take respon­si­bil­ity for our­selves, we are uncon­sciously choos­ing to react as vic­tim. This inevitably cre­ates feel­ings of anger, fear, guilt or inad­e­quacy and leaves us feel­ing betrayed, or taken advan­tage of by others. Victim-hood can be defined by the three posi­tions beau­ti­fully out­lined in a dia­gram devel­oped by a well-respected psy­chi­a­trist, and teacher of Trans­ac­tional Analy­sis, named Stephen Karp­man. He calls it the “drama tri­an­gle,” I refer to it as the vic­tim tri­an­gle.

When encountering adversity, victims see themselves as damaged and unable to control their situations. They have doubts about their ability to control their lives. Self-efficacy is lacking and they feel unable to impact the adversity. Consider students who cannot control the demands of the academic and social demands of their lives. Or adults unable to control the many social, interpersonal, work, or monetary demands of their lives.

The persecutor mindset feels justified in blaming or attacking others because they see cosmic karma at work. They feel justified in exacting retribution because they desire to instill justice. This explains some of the gossip, bullying, and cruel behavior present in all of our school communities (students and adults alike).

The rescuer mindset is founded on the belief that people cannot take care of themselves. Rescuers don’t believe that others can solve their own problems and have a messiah complex. In their attempts to intervene, they cause more problems as they continue to foster victimhood and persecution.

The solution is promoting self-responsibility and growth of self-efficacy. Victims need to claim their pain and work to solve their own problems. Persecutors need to develop a more moral sense of fairness. Rescuers need to step aside and help others develop their own solutions.

For all of us involved in schools, we need to understand the prevalence of the Victim Triangle’s mindsets and work to promote self-efficacy of students and adults in order to build stronger communities.

Dr. Tim Uhl, Superintendent

The Week Ahead

Sunday: Drive to Ashland

Monday: Billings Regional Principal Meeting @ St. Labre (drive to GF)

Tuesday: Great Falls Regional Principal Mtg @ Holy Spirit; Butte Advisory Council Mtg (7 pm)

Wednesday: Missoula Principal Mtg @ Loyola Sacred Heart

Thursday: Missoula meetings; Diocese of Helena Chrism Mass

Friday: office (Helena)

This week: 1,176 miles

Last week: 3,122 miles

2014-15: 37,909 miles

Montana Catholic Schools

Serving 3800+ students in the 24 Catholic Schools across the Treasure State


I have placed the agenda and support materials for the regional meetings on the Montana Catholic Schools Website:

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