Persecutor, Victim, Rescuer.Which One Are You?

Aug 6, 2017All Articles & Posts, Mindset Guides, You, Your Relationships





A persecutor, a victim, and a rescuer walk into a bar. They sit down and play their little drama triangle game until someone tears them apart, or one of them gets fed up or drops dead.


This may seem like a bad joke, but in fact, these are the three major roles people play in their lives as defined by the Drama Triangle model developed by Stephen Karpman in 1968.


Even though we can and do take on different roles at different times, we have a “favourite” one. We tend to put on one of these “drama hats” as a response to situational triggers that we’ve created in the past as a defence mechanism, and we may not be completely aware of it.


Uncovering, understanding, and removing these triggers can make a profound difference to one’s life. If you know or suspect that one of these triggers or past experiences is messing with your head and your behaviour, don’t ignore it. Working with a great coach (hint: me) can help you effectively deal with it.


Awareness is the first step to making a change, so below is a description of typical thoughts, feelings, and words persecutor, a victim, and a rescuer use. You’ll probably identify a few people in your life who wear one of these hats and maybe even yourself. You may even realise you have a little hat selection!


The Persecutor in The Drama Triangle


Persecutors dominate others through criticism and command. They tend to look for imperfections, weaknesses and victims of their demands. Persecutor like to feel superior, in control and right. In their extreme version, they may come across self-centered, narcissistic, arrogant and insensitive.


Common thoughts:
– “He’s the weak link.”
– “I’ll get him.”
– “She’s always making some excuses.”
– “I must win at any cost.”
– “It’s got to be done right now!”


Common feelings:
– Threatened
– Pressured
– Right
– Demanding
– Entitled


Tends to say things like:
– “Whose fault is it?”
– “Can’t you do anything right?”
– “It doesn’t matter how you feel about it – Just do it!”
– “It’s your fault.”


If you are a persecutor, think about what price you’re paying to get your way. You probably value respect very highly, but don’t mistake respect with fear. Be appreciated for the right reasons. See talents and potential in others, not flaws and imperfections. Let others know you appreciate their work and who they are. That way, you get more of what you want without leaving destruction behind.


The Victim in The Drama Triangle


Victims tend to feel helpless, alone in their situation, overwhelmed with no help in sight. To them, it often looks like the odds are stacked up against them. Victims struggle to see the good and opportunities in their situation, which in turn reinforces their victimhood. They often devalue, don’t use, or even refuse offered help. Victims tend to stew in their misery, and their life stays the same.


Common thoughts:
– “It’s too much for me.”
– “I can’t think what to do.”
– “Nothing can help me.”
– “There’s no choice.”
– “Why does this alway happen to me?”


Common feelings:
– Fearful
– Singled out
– Self-pitying
– Helpless
– Lost


Tends to say things like:
– “I’ve got so much on my plate now, you cannot expect me to…”
– “You’re so lucky. I’ll never be able to do it…”
– “I never got that help when I was a child…”
– “I don’t even know where to start, why even bother?”
– “If only…”
– “Can you help me?”


If you feel this way, the first thing you need to understand that you are not powerless, you have choices. Next, you need to take responsibility. Although playing a victim may get you some attention of others, they are fed up with it, trust me. Sooner or later they will walk away because it’s too much. Rather than “OMG, it’s so bad! What am I gonna do?” try “Ok this sucks, what CAN I do right now to make it better?”


The Rescuer in The Drama Triangle


Rescuers to the rescue! They are here to help, to save the day – things would probably fall apart without them. Rescuers stretch, go above and beyond, and take on others’ responsibilities and work. They tend to put others or work before their own needs and wants. It makes them feel good and important.


Common thoughts:
– “They can’t manage.”
– “I have to look after them.”
– “I need to help them.”
– “I’m responsible for it all.”
– “I have to work so hard.”
– “It would fall apart without me.”


Common feelings:
– Capable
– Overburdened
– Righteous
– Irreplaceable
– Important


Tends to say things like:
– “It’s ok, I feel for you.”
– “I’ll do that myself/for you.”
– “Don’t worry about me.”
– “Let me help you.”
– “Let me show you how to do it.”


If you’re a rescuer, start practising having faith in others. Let them learn their lessons, face consequences, get their hands dirty and knees scraped. If you don’t, you’ll break, and then everything that’s really dependent on you will break. You will feel even more important for helping others develop independence.


You surely know a few prosecutors, victims, and rescuers. Some are harder to deal with and handle than others. What’s more important is whether you identified yourself as one of these roles.


If you need a support of a life coach, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match. 






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