TRAUMA, VICTIMHOOD AND SUBJECTIVITY

Summary: This paper sets out to analyse victimhood as an identity marker after experiences of sexual victimization. Experiences of victimization do not necessarily entail a sense of victimhood. In reference to Lacan’s allegory of the robbery, it is argued that the constitution of subjectivity in relation to the Other is structurally preceded by an instant of victimization. The difference between structural and accidental victimization is then described. For victimization to develop into victimhood, two psychic processes play a role. First, victimhood is the outcome of a process of symbolico-imaginary identification that is fed by contemporary trauma discourses and cultural representations of victimhood. Second, victimhood is the result of a process of identification with (the object of jouissance of) the aggressor as described by Ferenczi. Finally, a distinction is made between victimhood in the hysteric subject and in the perverse subject. These two types of victimhood are illustrated with vignettes of sexual abuse.