make a martyr of

make a martyr of somebody

to treat someone badly with the result that other people feel sympathy for them The government knows that if they stop him standing in the elections they will make a martyr of him from the point of view of the international community.
See also: make, of

make a martyr of yourself

to do things which are difficult or unpleasant for you, often when it is not necessary She's made a real martyr of herself, wearing herself out doing everything for her family.
See also: make, of