Drama Triangle

What is a drama triangle? It is people who operate as a victim, rescuer and bully/persecutors. This occurs in any aspect of life, employee/employer, family, partnership, government. Here’s what it looks like


The first role is the victim, and by this, we don’t mean an actual victim. We are talking about the ‘victim role,’ where someone feels or acts like a victim. They feels powerless, afraid, dependent, and unable to make decisions or solve problems on his or her own. A person playing victim believes nothing is their fault. They believe that someone or something else beyond their control is being awful to them. Moreover, they feel like they don’t have any control or responsibility to change anything.

Being the victim should not be confused with being vulnerable. When you are vulnerable, you’re still in control of the situation, and you can fight back to get out of it. In contrast, victims act oppressed and are often self-pitying. They are your needy (and most draining) friends and relatives.

A victim likes to validate their problems as unsolvable and always places blame on the persecutor who can be a person or situation. Usually, the victim seeks a rescuer to get them out of their condition.

Some common phrases that people playing victims tell themselves and others include:

  • Poor me.
  • I feel helpless.
  • I can’t live without you.
  • It’s not my fault for how things turned out.
  • Why is this happening to me?
  • It’s beyond my control.

The Persecutor

The persecutor (or villain) is argumentative, angry, controlling, dominating or oppressive, judgmental, blaming, and self-righteous. They lash out at others around them and make the victim feel helpless. The persecutor takes the stance, “It’s all your fault,” and criticizes others. They are always defensive, and they have to be right. They come across as authoritative and like to have their own way. This can cost them their jobs, friendships, or even relationships.

They would rather pin faults on others as the cause of problems to hide their fear. A person playing the persecutor role tends to hold others accountable for their problems and even tries to manipulate them into doing things their way.

Persecutors use the following phrases to justify themselves and their actions:

  • I should have known better
  • I should never have trusted you
  • If only you did what I told you
  • You did not do your job now I have to suffer

The rescuer likes to play the hero – always wanting to save others. They get satisfaction by helping others, and they can become quite engaged in the act that they neglect their own needs. They don’t do this out of genuine compassion or care for others, but rather, selfishly so they may feel good about themselves.

They are overly helpful, feel responsible for others, and tend to fix other people’s problems, Moreover, they view others as helpless, and feel guilty when they can’t solve a problem. They are self-sacrificing and focus on the needs of other people at the cost of their own. They need to be needed and seek the help of a victim, but in reality, they just want to be seen as helping.

In the drama triangle, the rescuer appears as someone who seems to be striving to solve a victim’s issues. However, they can’t allow the victim to succeed or get better.

The drama cycles from one role to another. In one instance, you may play the victim, enjoying all the attention, and not taking responsibility for your actions. At other times, you may play the persecutor, feeling powerful, especially if you don’t have the skills to ask directly for what you want.

Rescuers manipulate victims using phrases like:

  • Let me help you.
  • I agree with you.
  • Yes, you are right.
Psychological Bullying - YouTube

The Victim

  1. Acceptance – You need to acknowledge that nobody owes you anything, even if they offer to help and start taking responsibility for your actions. Situations will always arise, and the only survival tactic is to accept that you have to make a choice. Moreover, understand that every choice has consequences.
  2. Keep agreements and strive to follow through with your commitments.
  3. Stop making excuses and reproaching yourself, especially when you feel like you won’t reach someone’s (your dad’s, mom’s, or wife’s/husband’s) expectations.
  4. Stop complaining about things that you don’t feel unhappy with and instead use that energy to search for ways to improve or change those things.
  5. Learn to become a problem solver instead of waiting on salvation.
  6. Reflect on your strengths and accept your vulnerabilities.
Persecutor - Victim - Rescuer cycle Archives - Rogue Psychologist

The Rescuer

  1. Don’t offer yourself up without being asked to help.
  2. Don’t promise to help people if it means sacrificing your own needs.
  3. Take a minute to ask yourself if they really need your involvement.
  4. Quit thinking that people depend on you to survive in this world.
  5. Be a good listener without getting involved in other people’s problems and pain.
  6. Offer to support instead of playing the rescuer or savior.
  7. Offer to help only when asked.

When you start to implement these goals, it won’t be long until you start noticing some changes. Since you accepted your situation and are willing to overcome them, the tension won’t be there anymore. You will feel relaxed, happy, and energized, and life will become interesting.

  • The victim turns to a creator. Now, instead of feeling helpless, powerless and oppressed, and complaining about everything in your life, you start fighting back. By becoming a problem solver, exerting independence, and setting boundaries, you will feel excited and not exhausted.
  • The persecutor turns to a challenger. Rather than blame and punish, you give up trying to force, control and manipulate people. Instead, you watch a victim’s actions without lashing out at them and being bossy. You no longer criticize and are ready to accept the results.
  • The rescuer turns into a coach. You become caring without overstepping. You don’t allow your fear, obligation, and guilt to control you. You say no when you need to and stop solving people’s problems for them. Instead, you become a motivator, psyching up the victim to act. You become a good listener, but support other people instead of offering solutions.
What is a Healthy Relationship? | Shine ALOUD UK
Goals for 2018: Healthy Relationships - RespectTeam

We all fall into these patterns on occasion, but if you recognize them and understand what the new best practices are to healthy relationships, the drama triangle will eventually become non-existent. Respect, understanding, kindness along with boundaries so as not to be taken advantage of or used, is key.

By admin

I am a holistic mental health coach and have over 20 years combined education, research, training and experience in mental health, counselling and psychology. My previous experience in the mental health field has consisted of working with a diverse range of specialties that include communities and clients affected with special needs, addictions and recovery, workshop presentations, individual counselling, group facilitations, as well as crisis interventions, to name a few. Since Spring of 2019, my life situation has forced my learning to take on a new direction and there has been so much information and personal growth, a huge shift in my well-being holistically. This has given me a driving passion to teach others these amazing tools, information and application of what you can begin to implement in order to live your very best life no matter what your personal situation is. There’s something for everyone here, I will be referring mostly to the cause, effects, education, consequences and implementations towards your recovery, no matter what it is you are challenged with at this time in your life. Currently located in the beautiful city of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canad, my personal journey has contributed to a path of coping with chronic pain through various accumulated stressful and traumatic experiences that were stored unconsciously within the body. Personal traumas ranging from sexual assault, “special needs” parenting of an “Aspergers transgender” child, “parental alienation”, abusive relationships, divorce, and so much more. My goal is to teach you the steps you will learn to take, to heal your mind, emotions and body, simultaneously. Each person is unique and results vary, but this is the start of a journey that could result in a lasting and healing process of do-it-youself-care.

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