Stop waiting for the rescuer

Dr. Colin Ross* uses a triangle to show the roles that trauma survivors tend to replay in their lives. At each point of the triangle is one of these roles:

  • Victim
  • Rescuer
  • Perpetrator

Sometimes, we were a victim in real life, as with abuse. Sometimes, we suffer a medical emergency that is no one’s “fault,” and still leaves us feeling powerless and, thus, victimized. PTSD can result in our continuing to interpret life events with ourself in the victim role, whether it is true or not

For us to be victimized, there is also a Perpetrator, the one(s) who victimized you. PTSD can leave us looking for the perpetrator in anyone and everyone and even every situation (like a tree could fall on you, etc.)

Rescuer role may be a pure fiction. Most of us were not rescued. We didn’t tell anyone because we were threatened or scared or didn’t know something amiss was happening at the time. Even if we were rescued, like when the doctors saved us, PTSD leaves us waiting for rescue from its symptoms. (No disrespect intended to those waiting for a Messiah to save them/us)

We are thinking T-1 is supposed to rescue us. Not going to happen. Fiction. Fantasy. Still, we think it every day since we paused our therapeutic relationship

We are thinking T-1 is perpetrator. Almost certainly false. Mistakes made? Almost certainly yes because we are humans and because T-1 cares so much. This is not what a perpetrator is. Perpetrator thinking is believing in bad guys. Most people believe in this. (We no longer consciously believe in bad guys. That is a digression. See this recent post)

Sometimes we imagine ourself as Rescuer of others. T-2 has a treatment modality in which you rescue yourself during traumatic flashbacks. Dr. Ross might not approve because enacting this trope reinforces the whole triangle

Instead, Dr. Ross promotes a different triad of roles; we think it might be a circle—like reduce, reuse, recycle—but with these roles:

  • Survivor
  • Coach
  • Challenger

Victim becomes Survivor. You don’t need rescuing because in the real present, you have already survived. (If you are still in danger, call emergency services like 9-1-1, a crisis line, or talk to a doctor or therapist about how you can become immediately safe)

You use a Challenger in your life to challenge the old triangle and the old ways of coping that may have served to get you through the trauma and maybe your youth but that no longer help

Coach is a therapist or counselor or social worker or anyone who teaches you new ways to be a survivor and not a victim. This means you try to put down the idea of being rescued.

The coach and challenger are your partners. You can learn to be your own challenger and/or coach; and our experience is that an outside helper can promote integration of new skills and double check you develop new habits that are healthy and not new ways that are unhealthy (such as trading one addiction for another or one co-dependent relationship for another)

A book can be a coach. Whom you see as an expert plays a large part of this, as does whom you feel you can trust.

We could help support you and we know a lot, and we would not make an ideal coach because we are not reliable or stable or an expert in healing, even if you trust us

We could help challenge old ways for you—ways you enact the triangle when you are actually a survivor—if you asked. We don’t want to push an agenda on you. Dr. Ross’s way isn’t the only path to healing. T-2’s way might help, the rescuing yourself. Who knows?

We used to be a teacher. We were funny. We were stressed. We talked to our me’s even though we didn’t know about me’s. Wet hope this part teaches you something

During stressful world times, PTSD is stronger, like the strongest maybe it has been in years or every. Old roles may get stronger. Can you find a Coach and Challenger to remind you that you are a survivor? Can this post remind you?

*We think Dr. Ross is an expert because he studied trauma, has credentials, and he tries to develop treatments for traumatic dissociation. His methods are based on research of real people. We have seen his studies going on in the trauma hospital. You do not have to think he is credible. We will not be upset

4 thoughts on “Stop waiting for the rescuer

  1. Perhaps instead of sharp points in the triangle, there could be fuzzy circles that have areas of overlap with each other, so people could contribute in roles other than their primary role.

    Liked by 2 people

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