What Is a Victim of Circumstance?

Lainie Petersen

A victim of circumstance is an individual who suffers ill consequences because of factors that were out of his control. Someone can be said to be such a victim if, during the course of her everyday life, she encounters a situation without seeking it out that causes her harm. The phrase is often used to describe someone who is an object of pity because others recognize that he shares no blame for his situation and that his current plight was caused by the laws of nature or the actions, intentional or unintentional, of other people.

When individuals suffer ill consequences due to factors that are out of their control, like the weather, they may be referred to as victims of circumstance.
When individuals suffer ill consequences due to factors that are out of their control, like the weather, they may be referred to as victims of circumstance.

One significant aspect of being a victim of circumstance is the concept of bad timing, in which an individual suffers harm because of the time period in which she took specific action. For example, people frequently leave their homes and walk to school, work, or the store. There have occasionally been situations in which a pedestrian has left his home only to encounter damaging, even deadly, circumstances. The pedestrian may leave his home just as a lightning storm hits and be struck by lightning, or he may walk into the middle of an altercation on the street and be injured or killed. Another example of bad timing is when an individual makes an otherwise sound business or financial decision only to suffer significant financial losses because of unexpected change in the financial climate.

An individual who comes across an altercation on the street and ends up getting injured as a result may be considered to be a victim of circumstance.
An individual who comes across an altercation on the street and ends up getting injured as a result may be considered to be a victim of circumstance.

Many people assign blame for an individual's suffering based on how a person's actions contributed to her situation. As such, people may be more sympathetic and supportive of someone who is perceived as a victim of circumstance than someone who caused his own problems. In some cases, this division may result in a significant difference in how a suffering person is regarded and treated by others.

In some cases, people are concerned about avoiding becoming a victim of circumstance. This can lead individuals to become extremely prudent in their relationships and daily living. Unfortunately, because it is very difficult to avoid encountering bad circumstances, this approach may backfire and unduly restrict the individual who understandably wishes to avoid suffering. For most healthy adults, recognizing the reality of both bad luck and the existence of external factors over which they have no control can help temper the impulse to become overly cautious.

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Discussion Comments


Victim is a state of mind, and victims need circumstance to exist. Without the circumstance, there's no victim, so a victim is the "consequence of circumstance"-- or a responsible state of mind insists the playing field is as it should be, providing all the necessary ups and downs, essential for growth and development, and specifically suited for each individuals continued learning. Overcoming challenges, even grave ones, are rich opportunities designed especially for me.


The continual change of circumstances is the one constant we can depend on, making the playing field even for everyone. Lessons learned, directly or indirectly, benefit the world, no matter what. Challenges, viewed as hardships and suffering, are also golden opportunities to overcome. Developing perseverance is no easy task, and without difficult or even impossible conditions, the stuff that makes humans weep with joy, never happened.

No, taking responsibility for everything in my life is a way of life that I coach, teach and nurture with. The rich understanding developed from this autonomous approach is irreplaceable on our journey of pursuing happiness. The key elements to finding life interesting, exciting and absolutely worthwhile are these types of principles, not optimistic, not even positive, but actual. Actually, actual actuality is an important place to live and breathe, and because success is measured by what you overcome, your perspective and inference join the actual elements, insisting these valuable human qualities can only be built through our way of life on earth exactly as it is.

It seems life is as it should be, and even though this is unknowable information, it sure seems that way. Being dependent on circumstance to justify how I feel makes the circumstance at fault for my feelings, when I am actually my "feeling maker.” I make me mad, and I make me glad. The final straw that broke the camel’s back is the camel’s fault and the camel’s responsibility for breaking his own back. The camel, choosing to ignore the weight, caused himself great pain, but if he thought in an emotionally healthy way, taking responsibility for the stack of straw he piled up on his back, then he would have recognized his incredible load, had self-awareness and removed the stack from his back before it broke. Then he wouldn't have the need to blame and falsely accuse the innocent single straw, which had nothing to do with the broken back. His self-efficacy and confidence would benefit, and he would commit to care for his condition, instead of relying on the conditions to take care of themselves. Finally, the camel benefits from denying the victim role, being able to identify the worthwhile ideas and turning away from the less desirable ones. Learning is made possible from failures, and that is why it’s perfect to be imperfect. Long live human beings! Hooray!


We've all been a victim of circumstance at one time or another in our lives. I recently knew of a very sad situation caused by weather and bad timing. During an ice storm, a young man stopped to assist a stranded motorist in a neighboring town and was struck by another vehicle that was sliding on the ice. This gentleman was trying to be a good samaritan but lost his life instead. He was not a victim of a crime, but merely circumstances beyond anyone's control.

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