Pleasers & Victims – Similarities & Differences

Relationship 180 is pleased to announce our upcoming Professionals seminar
“Working With Couples Using Attachment Theory” with Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

Saturday, August 10, 2013 9 AM to 4 PM
Mount of Olives Lutheran Church in Mission Viejo, CA

New material and therapist resources will be presented at the conference.

Please go to our website at for details, registration and payment.

Similarities and Differences between the Pleaser and the Victims

As kids, both Pleasers and victims try to “be good” to not stress their parents. Perhaps a parent had outbursts of anger or there was a sibling that was out of control. Perhaps one or both parents were like kids themselves and someone had to take charge. Pleasers and victims are both afraid of conflict and will go out of their way to appease, fix and calm down an agitated person. Both styles lack boundaries and have a difficult time standing up for themselves.

What’s the difference? We might think of a pleaser as a classic co- dependent. They learned to “care take” of others as kids and they stay in the care-taking role as adults. Pleasers have a difficult time giving an accurate report of their childhood experiences as they would not want to say anything bad about their parents. They see the past in an idealized way and often don’t recognize they lost parts of themselves by constantly focusing on others.

Victims on the other hand have a lot of unresolved trauma. They learned to tolerate the intolerable as kids. The parent that was supposed to protect them and comfort them was more often a source of fear or even terror. When a victim tries to describe their childhood their narrative will often be chaotic, disorganized, choppy and hard to follow. It’s as though their story is as perplexing and confusing as their childhood. It doesn’t make sense. (Researchers Ainsworth, Hesse, Main)

While both pleasers and victims have a lot of anxiety, victims endured more trauma as kids and often learned to cope by disconnecting, freezing and dissociating during fearful events. This method of coping may continue into adulthood. Numbing out is a way to forget trauma and move on (and there is a lot of pain to forget). Victims are not really feeling much about the abuse they often face as adults. A chaotic environment or abuse from an intimidating controller feels “normal” and is to be expected. As a result the cycle of abuse often continues.

Pleasers, having endured fewer traumas as kids, tend to stay more present and anxiously try to fix an agitated person. While they look at the bright side and minimizes problems pleasers would have more ability to escape from an abusive situation.

Thanks for listening – Kay