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  • Writer's picturelesleymccuaig

Do you find yourself in a relationship conflict?

When we find ourselves in conflict, we can take on various roles; such as a victim, persecutor, or rescuer. This is best described by Stephen Karpman, who in the 1960s developed a social model called The Drama Triangle. It describes three roles that people tend to take in dysfunctional interpersonal relationships: the victim, the persecutor, and the rescuer. According to the model, these roles are not fixed, and people may switch between them depending on the situation. However, the constant switching of roles can create a cycle of dysfunction and drama in relationships, which can be damaging to all involved.

Why is it important to be aware of this concept? Because The Drama Triangle model can be helpful in identifying dysfunctional patterns in relationships and working towards healthier communication and conflict resolution strategies.

The victim role is characterized by feelings of powerlessness, helplessness, and self-pity. Victims often blame others for their problems and feel that life is unfair to them.

The persecutor role is characterized by an aggressive and controlling attitude towards others. Persecutors often blame and criticize others for their problems, and may use intimidation, coercion, or even violence to get their way.

The rescuer role is characterized by a desire to help and protect others, often at the expense of one's own needs and boundaries. Rescuers may feel a sense of obligation or guilt to help others, and may enable or even perpetuate the victim-persecutor dynamic by not allowing others to take responsibility for their own problems.

If you find yourself in conflict, and can identify with one of these roles; i.e., the victim, persecutor, or rescuer, it is important to become self-aware and consider withdrawing from the triangle. To do this you will likely need the skillset of assertiveness, compassion, empathy and self-awareness.

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