When children are in a trauma situation they are part of a
relationship triangle. The triangle consists of the victim (the
child), the rescuers (those whom the child expects or hopes will
rescue them from the trauma), and the perpetrator (the one who abuses
or neglects). Long after the original trauma, survivors often
re-create that triangle in their interpersonal relationship in an
effort not to feel uncomfortable feelings of helplessness. In the
re-creations, survivors may assume any role on the triangle.
The goal is for survivors to “get off the triangle” altogether and to avoid being locked into rigid polarized behaviors. Instead of being a victim, they realize that there are times they will need others’ help. Instead of being a rescuer, they realize that there will be times that they want to help others. Instead of being a perpetrator or wanting to hurt others, they realize that there will be times that they need to be firm, assertive, and set boundaries.
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