Sanctuary for the Abused

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Centerfold Syndrome & Men

The Centerfold Syndrome

Psychologist Dr. Gary R. Brooks, in his book, The Centerfold Syndrome: How Men Can Overcome Objectification and Achieve Intimacy with Women*, has identified four symptoms of the "centerfold syndrome." As the result of a steady diet of soft-core pornography, men may display one or more of the following symptoms:

Voyeurism-an obsession with visual stimulation that trivializes all other features of a healthy relationship

Objectification-obsessive fetishes over body parts and the rating of women by size and shape

Trophyism-treatment of women as collectibles and property

Fear of intimacy-inability to get beyond glossy, centerfold images of women to have a real relationship

Pornography subtly communicates that the value of a woman is determined by her body, shape, and size. Only those women with a perfect physical appearance are valuable and worthy of being admired, desired, and loved. This can have detrimental effects on how women and girls view themselves.

I often wonder how many young girls who struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and other eating disorders are unknowingly struggling to measure up to the perfect "10" image projected by the airbrushed centerfold.

I also wonder how many teenage boys, consciously or unconsciously, measure the value of their girlfriends against the "bunny" image.


Pornography's Progressive Pattern of Addiction

Dr. Victor Cline, a clinical psychologist at the University of Utah and a specialist in the area of sexual addictions, has observed a four-step syndrome common to almost all of his clients who have been involved with pornography.

Step 1-Addiction.
Once consumers of pornography get hooked, they keep coming back for more and more. The sexually graphic material provides the viewer with an aphrodisiac effect, followed by sexual release, most often through masturbation. Pornography gives the viewer powerful imagery that can be recalled and elaborated on with the person's fantasy life. Despite negative consequences, most addicts are unable to rid themselves of their dependence on pornography. Their addiction rules their lives.

Step 2-Escalation.
Cline describes the second phase as an escalation-effect. The pornography consumer, similar to the drug user, requires more and more stimulation to reach his or her "highs." In fact some viewers prefer the powerful sexual imagery planted in their minds by exposure to pornography to sexual intercourse itself. This nearly always diminishes the viewer's capacity to love and express appropriate intimacy within relationships.

Step 3-Desensitization.
In this phase, material that was originally perceived as unthinkable, shocking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral is now viewed as acceptable and commonplace by the viewer of pornography. Regardless of the deviancy expressed, the viewer perceives the pornography and his or her use of it as legitimate.

Step 4-Acting out sexually.
This last step describes an increased tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in pornography, including things such as: promiscuity, visiting escorts, voyeurism, exhibitionism, group sex, affairs, rape, sadomasochism, cybersex, phone sex, child molestation, and more.

Clearly, this progressive pattern demonstrates how reality and fantasy become blurred for those who are entangled with pornography or when viewing is no longer enough. Early emotional wounding is almost always a factor in pornography addiction.

In regard to the compulsive or addictive nature of pornography, Dr. Cline shares the following: "In over 26 years, I have treated approximately 350 males afflicted with sexual addictions (or sometimes referred to as sexual compulsions). In about 94 percent of the cases I have found that pornography was a contributor, facilitator, or direct causal agent in the acquiring of these sexual illnesses." ii

iCline, Pornography's Effects, 3-5.
iiVictor B. Cline, "Pornography and Sexual Addictions," Christian Counseling Today 4, no.4 (1996): 58.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Why Abuse Survivors are Targetted by the Wrong Sort of People

Why Abuse Survivors are Targetted by The Wrong Sort of People

Predators Hunt the Wounded

An abuse survivor e-mailed me saying how she seemed to attract men who want to exploit her. On the other hand, good people seem to run from her. Tragically, this is the common experience of abuse survivors. I have always puzzled as to why this is. She sent me a couple of photos of herself. Then something clicked. I was a little gentler, but here is the essence of my e-mail to her:

Your photos, though nice, give the impression that you are sad, shy, lacking in confidence and aching for love. An evil man might look at those photos and think to himself, “Her need for love and for a boost in self-esteem seem so overwhelming that if I let her think that I could meet these needs, she would be so scared of losing me that she would find it hard to resist the urge to do anything I want. If I initially treat her tenderly and kindly and flatter her, I’ll have a good chance of turning her into virtually my slave. I could then treat her however I wish.”

If, on the other hand, a man saw you as happy, confident and relatively content, he’d assume you are quite choosy as to who you relate to and how far you would go. He’d assume you have none of the desperation that pressures some women to compromise their morals to get the love they crave.

Not only could this be a factor in men with evil intent being attracted to you, it could cause good men (or good women) to feel tempted to try to get their way with you. Because they are honorable, they might run for fear that if they stayed close to you they might yield to that temptation.

Regardless of how resistant to sexual pressure she really is, a person with low self-esteem and who craves love gives the impression that she is vulnerable to seduction. Upon finding such a person, immoral men feel emboldened to test their suspicion that they have found someone they could seduce.

To resist sexual advances, a woman craving love and lacking in self-esteem needs far superior self-control to that of other women, if she perceives that she must yield to those advances in order to receive the love she desperately needs. Furthermore, an abuse survivor is strongly tempted to accept the lie that because she has been mistreated before, she has little purity left to protect. This lie is yet another burden weighing down abuse survivors.

Moreover, in addition to these strong pressures, she will find resisting an evil man much harder than other women find it because she has a history of having done everything possible to resist and she was still overpowered. Her past tragedies cause her to lose hope that she could ever successfully prevent a man from exploiting her. She feels sure that any attempt to resist would be a futile waste of effort. Sexual predators know this, so they are on the look out for abuse survivors.

A tragically large number of abuse survivors have mistakenly thought that perhaps they have low morals or are evil or that God is against them, since that they seem to attract sexual predators. This is most certainly not so. The thought is so obviously incorrect that, theoretically, there should be no need to deny it. Sadly, it needs to be spelt out because sexual offenders are skilled at cruelly manipulating tender consciences, causing their victims to have a mistaken view of themselves. The truth is that abuse survivors tend to attract repeat offenses simply because they are hurting; and sexual predators, like beasts of prey, think the wounded might be an easier target.

If predators imagine they have a chance with you, it means nothing. Simply by refusing their advances, you can prove them wrong.

Knowing why the wrong sort of people might try to exploit you can be a relief. There is nothing wrong with you other than the simple fact that you are hurting. I am sure what you really want to know, however, is how to prevent this attention. It’s easy to say that self-esteem, confidence and feeling loved is the answer, but the difficulty is knowing how to grow in these things.

Grantley Morris:
We are NOT 'magnets' for abusers
They TARGET not just the vulnerable but those who's qualities are admired.  Strong, intelligent, well-spoken, self-aware, attractive, successful.  Then they take these people apart piece by piece.  And enjoy doing it.

Click here for a Facebook Group for Survivors

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018


by  Peace

This topic comes from the Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, & Other Toxic People book, which is available on Amazon!

Relationships with psychopaths take an unusually long time to recover from. Survivors often find themselves frustrated because they haven't healed as fast as they'd like. They also end up dealing with friends & therapists who give them judgmental advice about how it's "time to move on".

Whether you were in a long-term marriage or a quick summer fling, the recovery process will be the same when it comes to a psychopathic encounter. It takes 12-24 months to get your heart back in a good place, and even after that, you might have tough days. I certainly do!

The important thing here is to stop blaming yourself. Stop wishing it would go faster. Stop thinking that the psychopath somehow "wins" if you're still hurting. They are out of the picture now. This journey is about you. If you come to peace with the extended timeline, you'll find this experience a lot more pleasant. You can settle in, make some friends, and get cozy with this whole recovery thing.

So why is it taking so long?

You were in love

Yes, it was manufactured love. Yes, your personality was mirrored and your dreams manipulated. But you were in love. It's the strongest human emotion & bond in the world, and you felt it with all your heart. It is always painful to lose someone you loved - someone you planned to be with for the rest of your life.

The human spirit must heal from these love losses. Regardless of your abuser's intentions, your love was still very real. It will take a great deal of time and hope to pull yourself out of the standard post-breakup depression.

You were in desperate love

Here's where we branch off from regular breakups.
Psychopaths manufacture desperation & desire. You probably worked harder for this relationship than any other, right? You put more time, energy, and thought into it than ever before. And in turn, you were rewarded with the nastiest, most painful experience of your life.

In the idealization phase, they showered you with attention, gifts, letters, and compliments. Unlike most honeymoon phases, they actually pretended to be exactly like you in every way. Everything you did was perfect to them. This put you on Cloud 9, preparing you for the identity erosion.

You began to pick up on all sorts of hints that you might be replaced at any time. This encouraged your racing thoughts, ensuring that this person was on your mind every second of the day. This unhinged, unpredictable lifestyle is what psychopaths hope to create with their lies, gas-lighting, and triangulation.

By keeping them on your mind at all times, you fall into a state of desperate love. This is unhealthy, and not a sign that the person you feel so strongly about is actually worthy of your love. Your mind convinces you that if you feel so powerfully, then they must be the only person who will ever make you feel that way. And when you lose that person, your world completely falls apart. You enter a state of panic & devastation.

The Chemical Reaction

Psychopaths have an intense emotional & sexual bond over their victims. This is due to their sexual magnetism, and the way they train your mind to become reliant upon their approval.

By first adoring you in every way, you let down your guard and began to place your self worth in this person. Your happiness started to rely on this person's opinion on you. Happiness is a chemical reaction going off in your brain - dopamine and receptors firing off to make you feel good.

Like a drug, the psychopath offers you this feeling in full force to begin with. But once you become reliant on it, they begin to pull back. Slowly, you need more and more to feel that same high. You do everything you can to hang onto it, while they are doing everything in their power to keep you just barely starved.


There are thousands of support groups for survivors of infidelity. It leaves long-lasting insecurities and feelings of never being good enough. It leaves you constantly comparing yourself to others. That pain alone takes many people out there years to recover from.

Now compare that to the psychopath's triangulation. Not only do they cheat on you - they happily wave it in your face. They brag about it, trying to prove how happy they are with your replacement. They carry none of the usual shame & guilt that comes with cheating. They are thrilled to be posting pictures and telling their friends how happy they are.

I cannot even begin to explain how emotionally damaging this is after once being the target of their idealization. The triangulation alone will take so much time to heal from.

You have encountered pure evil

Everything you once understood about people did not apply to this person. During the relationship, you tried to be compassionate, easy-going, and forgiving. You never could have known that the person you loved was actively using these things against you. It just doesn't make any sense. No typical person is ready to expect that, and so we spend our time projecting a normal human conscience onto them, trying to explain away their inexplicable behavior.

But once we discover psychopathy, sociopathy, or narcissism, that's when everything starts to change. We begin to feel disgusted - horrified that we let this darkness into our lives. Everything clicks and falls into place. All of the "accidental" or "insensitive" behavior finally makes sense.

You try to explain this to friends and family members - no one really seems to get it. This is why validation matters. When you come together with others who have experienced the same thing as you, you discover you were not crazy. You were not alone in this inhuman experience.

It takes a great deal of time to come to terms with this personality disorder. You end up having to let go of your past understanding of human nature, and building it back up from scratch. You realize that people are not always inherently good. You begin to feel paranoid, hyper-vigialant, and anxious. The healing process is about learning to balance this new state of awareness with your once trusting spirit.

Your spirit is deeply wounded

After the eventual abandonment, most survivors end up feeling a kind of emptiness that cannot even be described as depression. It's like your spirit has completely gone away. You feel numb to everything and everyone around you. The things that once made you happy now make you feel absolutely nothing at all. You worry that your encounter with this monster has destroyed your ability to empathize, feel and care.

I believe this is what takes the longest time to recover from. It feels hopeless at first, but your spirit is always with you. Damaged, for sure, but never gone. As you begin to discover self-respect & boundaries, it slowly starts to find its voice again. It feels safe opening up, peeking out randomly to say hello. You will find yourself grateful to be crying again, happy that your emotions seem to be returning. This is great, and it will start to become more and more consistent.

Ultimately, you will leave this experience with an unexpected wisdom about the people around you. Your spirit will return stronger than ever before, refusing to be treated that way again. You may encounter toxic people throughout your life, but you won't let them stay for very long. You don't have time for mind games & manipulation. You seek out kind, honest, and compassionate individuals. You know you deserve nothing less.

This new found strength is the greatest gift of the psychopathic experience. And it is worth every second of the recovery process, because it will serve you for the rest of your life.

If you're worried that your recovery process is taking too long, please stop worrying. You've been through hell and back - there is no quick fix for that. And what's more, when all is said and done, these few years will be some of the most important years of your life.


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Monday, May 28, 2018


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Sunday, May 27, 2018



by Kathy Krajco

Projection is a new name for an old thing, scapegoating. In this section I just explain it in general terms, with examples. In the next section, we zero-in on how narcissists project and what is unique about the way they do it.

Projection. We find it everywhere. Which should be no surprise. It's actually the oldest trick in The Book. Really. The Serpent pulled it on Eve in the Book of Genesis when, in the very act of lying to Eve, he accused God of being the liar.

Here's how the story goes. The serpent had just suggested that Eve eat the Forbidden Fruit, and she replied that God told them not to because eating it would bring about their fall. The cunning serpent said, "God told you THAT?"

Slick, eh? In the very act of telling a whopper, the sneaky snake left-handedly called God a liar, through the power of suggestion. Thus the Prince of Lies pulled an identity-switch with God.

Moses ritualized a demonstration of projection in the Book of Leviticus as the prescribed rite for the annual Day of Atonement.

In this "atonement" ritual, all the people had to come forward, one by one, and make the scapegoat (a perfect yearling firstborn male to represent someone unblemished and with great potential) take their sins away from them and onto himself. How did they do this? By accusing him of their sins and laying the blame on his head. Then they had to purge themselves of him and make him atone for their sins. How did they do that? By chasing him away into the desert until he gave up trying to follow them back home, and then deserting him there. Which was the sentence worse than death = doom, because he would slowly die of thirst.

One hardly thinks they enjoyed doing this. Would you?

Wouldn't you instead get Moses' message? More powerful than a sermon, eh? Wouldn't you hang your head a little, thinking, "Jeez, are we that transparent?"

But never underestimate willful obtuseness' power to get things exactly backwards. Soon, people had done just that. Instead of being duly shamed by this ritual reenactment of how they "cleansed" and "saved" themselves (from justice) by scapegoating those who have the most to lose and are the least deserving, they decided that this ritual meant that this despicable behavior is the right thing to do! the way to cleanse yourself of sin!

How convenient.

They didn't get it later, either, when John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth came along and said: "Read our lips: To cleanse yourselves of your sins, don't punish an innocent scapegoat for them! Just R-E-F-O-R-M. Too complex?"

People still managed to just anti-get the message yet again, deciding that this meant they should graduate from animals and sacrifice these two men as the scapegoats to die for/of (in scripture you have this double entente, because the word used can mean either for or of) their sins.

So, then St. Paul gave it a shot. He really tried to make people see that they'd better quit acting stupid and projecting, instead of repenting, their sins. In his letter to the Romans, he basically put it in the plainest terms possible — those of a threat that asked, "Just whom do you think you're fooling?"

You — who steal — preach that other people should stop stealing. You — who commit adultery — preach that others should stop committing adultery. You — who commit sacrilege — preach that others should stop being idolaters. — Letter to the Romans, Chapter 2, verses 21-22
How's that for letting the self-righteous know that you know all their finger pointing is just projection/scapegoating?

Ah, but obtuseness is invincible, and twisted thinking can make black white. So, again this simple message went in one ear and out the other. All three peoples of that Book (Jews, Christians, and Muslims) still got it exactly backwards. They all say that the blood of the innocent victim on them "cleanses" them of their sins.

Projection. We see it everywhere. It's a kind of baptism = a mud bath people give their betters, by rubbing themselves off on them. Here's how it works.

Got a guilty conscience? If so, you've certainly been tempted to say to yourself, "I'm not so bad." To prove that, you must look around for an example of someone who's worse. Then you can say to yourself, "Aha! I'm not as bad as So-and-So."

But guess what? You didn't pick a So-and-So who really has that fault and has it worse than you. You picked someone with very little mud on his name, someone who looks cleaner than you, if possible, someone who has the corresponding virtue instead of that fault.

We're all tempted to pull this stunt. Some of us do, and some of us don't.

For example: If you're stingy, look for someone with a reputation for generosity, because generosity in your neighbor puts your stinginess to shame by serving as a foil that (by contrast) makes your stinginess more noticeable. Then smear your vice off on him. Tell everybody that he's stingy. Make everything he does sound stingy.

Thus you kill two birds with one stone: you rid yourself of your stinginess and him of his generosity.

Not. But looks are everything, and Truth doesn't matter, and this fraud makes you look good by comparison with him. Ah, cheating is much easier than freeing yourself of sin the legitimate way, by repentance.

You can see why narcissists highly prize this device called "projection" and become expert in it.

Projection. We see it everywhere. For example, guess who's favorite portrayal of the President of the United States is as "a Hitler" or "even worse than Hitler?" You guessed it, the Germans. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder did it in campaign speeches to turn the tide and get elected. And guess whose favorite and constant characterization of Americans is as "arrogant?" You guessed it, the French. Projection.

Once you catch on to projection, you do recognize it in a vast amount of the badmouthing you hear.

Magicians call this trick "misdirection." With one hand magicians misdirect our attention so we don't see what they're doing with their other hand.

Finger-pointers do the same thing. They direct people's attention (critical attention, negative attention) away from themselves and what they're doing by accusing someone else of doing the same, or essentially the same, thing. Thus they make themselves seem like people who never would dream of doing such a thing themselves — while in the very act of doing it.

Pointing the finger at others is a red flag of malignant narcissism.

The worst examples of this that I personally know of happened in schools. In one case, a teacher (a malignant narcissist in a private school) took indecent liberties with, and sexually abused, pubescent boys he lured into his home while his wife was at work on the night shift. It was later discovered that many people knew that he invited boys to his home on Friday nights. But nobody had seen anything wrong with that. Over time, many school employees had caught him in his classroom alone with a boy — behind a closed, sometimes locked, door and in the back where neither could be seen from hall. Nobody had seen anything suspicious in that. Many people knew this teacher had an explosive temper that he often had to make excuses to a berated student for, but nobody had seen anything abnormal in that. In fact nobody saw anything inappropriate in the inappropriately patronizing and intimate relationship he had with his students. Even when it came between them and their parents.

And nobody thought anything of it when, every few years, he seized any opening in a conversation to pop off with "What? Are you the only one around here who doesn't know? He likes boys," referring to some unmarried teacher. One unmarried teacher after another.

Thus he play-acted the part of his anti-type, a man who was abhorred by homosexual child abuse = certainly NOT the type who might do such a thing himself. Though people saw plenty to view with suspicion in that unmarried teacher, nobody saw anything suspicious in the accuser failing to cite any evidence or report these allegations he was so sure of.

They didn't even see anything suspicious in the accuser glomping onto that unmarried teacher to become his best friend. Even when his doing this became a glaring pattern.

Indeed, every single unmarried teacher who came to that school got assassinated by this, his best friend. And nobody thought anything of it! Satan polished his halo by being a pillar of his parish, a lector and lay communion distributor. And he got away with this for over fifteen years.

A serial killer is less cruel. He doesn't betray a sacred trust by doing it to people who have every good reason to trust him. And even if he tortures them, he doesn't doom his victims to a life-sentence of torture in Hell.

Notice that the "innocent" people he fooled ain't innocent. They committed the Original Sin, believing an obvious lie just because it was juicy. Like Eve.

To wit: It flew in the face of reason for her to think God might be lying. He was her creator. He provided everything for her and Adam. Which means that he had proved he wanted what was good them. He denied them but one thing, telling them that it was for their own good. So, what was she thinking? She had every good reason to believe that he was telling the truth.

Moreover, what credibility is there in a stranger who slithers up to you like a sidewinder? Why not doubt the serpent — someone she had no reason to trust?

Bottom Line: God has high credibility; serpent has about zero credibility. So, Eve wasn't honestly fooled: she just liked serpent's version of the world better, because it made her able to be as God. Adam's reason for swallowing the lie was even worse: he just did it to agree with Eve.

In other words, to please her he prostituted his mind to her. And thus political correctness was born.

Narcissists and political character assassins are dangerous precisely because people do this. If, say, you have known someone for 10 years, you know a lot about him. Doubtless, you have seen his honesty tested and seen that he proved to be an honest man. So, nobody should be able to slither up to you tomorrow and tell you he's dishonest. If you buy that, you are betraying that honest man. To believe that lie, you must annihilate history and 10 years of evidence to the contrary. You are not innocent.
Here's an example of the finger-pointer being guilty of the moral equivalent: Mr. Self-Righteous union-busts to keep the workers in his shoe factory so poor they go barefoot — and shows moral indignation in loudly condemning his neighbor for "muzzling an ox trampling the grain." He gets all fuzzy looking if you try to explain to him that he's doing the same thing, only worse. That's because he views rules, not as guidelines to be followed, but rather as red lines to catch other people with one toe over so he can condemn them. So he ignores the spirit of the law and obsesses over the letter of it.

Here's another example of projection that camouflages guilt for the moral equivalent. It also shows that even religious institutions are guilty of projection to polish their image.

The Catholic Church points the finger at mothers who have abortions, saying, "What kind of mother does that?" Okay, that position on the issue is reasonable, and it is the type of thing religion is expected to express its opinion on. But why does the Church harp on abortion when it has so little to say about countless other issues?

What issues? Well, for example, why don't we hear the Church crying out against Catholic dictators who mass-murder and torture their own people? You never hear a peep out of Rome about that. Why does the Church declare women who have abortions excommunicated but not these Catholic dictators? Why didn't it condemn the Irish Catholics in the IRA murdering Protestants? Why doesn't it cry out against the Catholic Mafia? Why doesn't it stop taking money from gangsters and burying them as Catholics in good standing? Why don't we hear the Church crying out against the scourge of child-beating and wife-beating, anti-Semitism and other bigotry, drugs, sweat shops, union-busting, exploiting undocumented migrant workers, and so forth? Why don't we hear it preaching against slander and character assassination? Why is it obsessed instead with just gays and women who have abortions?

The answer is obvious. The Church points the finger at others only for "sins" of which IT is guilty. This deflects attention for those sins off itself and onto others. Damage repair for the Church's image. Not to mention misdirection like that of the teacher in the example above.

The Church goes to great lengths to portray an image of itself as our "holy mother," virtually fusing its image with that of Jesus' mother. The harping on abortion is just part of that act. All this holy motherhood posturing tends to make us forget what Holy Mother Church has done to her own children.

Recall how truculently she has waded through her children by the tens of thousands throughout history. She aborted the lives of countless of her children — throughout the 900 years of the episcopal and monastic inquisitions and now by allowing predatory priests and other religious to sexually prey on countless more of her children. She has stonewalled justice, intimidated victims who seek it, and protected criminals — spiriting them off to Rome or to a distant school or parish for a fresh set of unsuspecting prey.

And to be fair, the Catholic Church certainly isn't the only religious institution guilty of using the pointed finger for misdirection to get our attention off its own sins and act like the opposite of what its conduct makes it. In fact, it does at least have something officially on record against many other evils: religious preachers of other denominations don't even seem to know that the other great evils exist.

Paul was in line with the ancient Hebrew scriptures. Scripture has a name for the spirit in which people point the finger at someone crying, "Look what they're doing! It's evil!" The name of that spirit is satan, which means the "finger-pointer," the "name-slayer" (slanderer, character assassin), the "prosecutor/persecutor," or the "accuser." In some places (e.g., the Book of Job) they also call this spirit "the policer of the world."

So, projection is everywhere.

The worst thing about it is that mud sticks best to a clean spot.

I'm sure that people who do this think they're clever, but it's childsplay. Send a muddy child into an unsupervised schoolyard and wait to see what happens. He will rub himself off on every cleaner, smaller child he can find, until they are all crying and he looks good by comparison.

Looks good by comparison. Those are the all-important words. The hypocrite makes himself look good by comparison with others. He does that the easy way — by smearing himself off on others to make them look bad. This is the root of envy. Which is NOT a rare motive for what people say about others. It's an all-too-common motive.


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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Why Do Abusive Men Abuse?

(we have used the male gender, your abuser could be female)
('battering' can be extended to verbal, emotional & psychological abuse)

Abusive men batter women as a means of power and control, to manipulate, intimidate and rule their intimate partner.

Men who abuse their partners come from all races, religions, socioeconomic classes, areas of the world, educational levels and occupations.

They often appear charming and attentive to outsiders, and even to their partners, at first.

Many batterers are very good at disguising their abusive behavior to appear socially acceptable. Once they develop a relationship with a partner however, they become more and more abusive.

Characteristics of Domestic violence perpetrators:
seek control of the thoughts, beliefs and conduct of their partner.
punish their partner for resisting control.

Men who batter:
minimize the seriousness of their violence.
act impulsively.
distrust others.
need to control people and situations.
express feelings as anger.

A batterer covers up his violence by denying, minimizing, and blaming the victim. He often convinces his partner that the abuse is less serious than it is, or that it is her fault. He may tell her that "if only" she had acted differently, he wouldn't have abused her. Sometimes he will say, "You made me do it."

Victims of abuse do not cause violence. The batterer is responsible for every act of abuse committed.

Domestic violence is a learned behavior. It is learned through:
community (peer group, school, etc.).

(Personality disorders, mental illness, and other problems may compound domestic violence, but the abusive behavior must be addressed separately. )

Abuse is NOT caused by:

mental illness.
alcohol and drugs.
out-of-control behavior.
behavior of the victim.
problems in the relationship.

Many men blame their violence on the effects of drug and alcohol use.
Alcohol abuse is present in about 50 percent of battering relationships.
Research shows that alcohol and other drug abuse is commonly a symptom of an abusive personality, not the cause. Men often blame their intoxication for the abuse, or use it as an excuse to use violence. Regardless, it is an excuse, not a cause. Taking away the alcohol, does not stop the abuse.

Substance abuse must be treated before or in conjunction with domestic violence treatment programs.

A batterer abuses because he wants to, and thinks he has a "right" to his behavior. He may think he is superior to his partner and is entitled to use whatever means necessary to control her.

Some ways batterers deny and minimize their violence:
"I hit the wall, not her head."
"She bruises easily."
"She just fell down the steps."
"Her face got in the way of my fist."

Characteristics of a Potential Batterer
Controlling behavior
Quick involvement
Unrealistic expectations
Isolation of victim
Blames others for his problems
Blames others for his feelings
Cruelty to animals or children
"Playful" use of force during sex
Verbal abuse
Rigid sex roles
Jekyll and Hyde type personality
History of past battering
Threats of violence
Breaking or striking objects
Any force during an argument
Objectification of women
Tight control over finances
Minimization of the violence
Manipulation through guilt
Extreme highs and lows
Expects her to follow his orders
Frightening rage
Use of physical force
Closed mindedness

Abusers often try to manipulate the "system" by:
Threatening to call Child Protective Services or the Department of Human Resources and making actual reports that his partner neglects or abuses the children.

Changing lawyers and delaying court hearings to increase his partner's financial hardship.

Telling everyone (friends, family, police, etc.) that she is "crazy" and making things up.

Using the threat of prosecution to get her to return to him.

Telling police she hit him, too.

Giving false information about the criminal justice system to confuse his partner or prevent her from acting on her own behalf.

Using children as leverage to get and control his victim.

Accusing her of stalking him and/or his family

Accusing her of harrassment

Abusers may try to manipulate their partners, especially after a violent episode.

He may try to "win" her back in some of these ways:
Invoking sympathy from her, her family and friends.
Talking about his "difficult childhood".
Becoming overly charming, reminding her of the good times they've had.
Bringing romantic gifts, flowers, dinner.
Crying, begging for forgiveness.
Promising it will "never happen again."
Promising to get counseling, to change.
Abuse gets worse and more frequent over time

Lies Abusers Tell
Abusers often tell lies about their violence to themselves (their partners and society):

"I just need to be understood".

"I had a bad childhood."

"I can't control it."

"I get angry."

"She fights too."

"She pushes my buttons."

"If I don't control her, she will control me."

"My smashing things isn’t abusive, it’s venting."

"I have a lot of stress in my life."

"I just have an anger management problem."

"I just have a problem when I drink or use drugs."

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shared by Barbara at 12:37 AM 58 comments


Friday, May 25, 2018

How Can You Tell if You are Being Abused?

This may sound like a silly question to the outside observer, but it isn't. It seems like surely a person would know if they were being abused. There would be hitting and cruelty, obvious cruelty.

Not necessarily. Some of the most accomplished abusers never touch their victims. Remember the movie What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? The sister played by Bette Davis relentlessly abuses the sister played by Joan Crawford. It's blatant and subtle together. And we discover at the end of the movie that the Joan Crawford character has been abusing also, but in the most subtle and secret of ways.

Emotional abuse can be so subtle, so hidden, that those outside the abuse circle find it impossible to believe. The people inside that circle may even doubt their own perceptions, partly because the abuse is subtle and partly because the abuser helps them doubt. He insists on it. Part of his abuse is planting and nurturing self-doubt in his victims.

So how can you tell if it's happening to you? If any of the following are happening, you need to wonder. If several are happening, abuse is what it is.

* You feel a sense of dread, fear, or unease when a certain person comes home from work, or enters the room. Or you have a nonspecific sense of needing to protect yourself or others when they approach.

* You have recurring physical symptoms like headaches, fatigue, rashes, or diarrhea at or after times of interaction with or proximity to certain people. For example, before or during trips with them you experience symptoms you do not experience when travelling with others.

* Someone else in your family is being abused. If someone close to you is being abused, you are being emotionally abused. You are experiencing feelings of fear, hate, shame, powerlessness, guilt, and remorse, all created in you by the abuser. Abusing a child is a favorite way for abusers to abuse indirectly a parent or grandparent.

* You find your circle of activity getting smaller and smaller. You are becoming isolated progressively from your friends and loved ones. You no longer do many of the things that once gave you pleasure. You don't go where you used to.

* You notice that you do not feel as competent as you did before you began associating with or began a relationship with a certain person.

* You don't take as good care of yourself as you did before the relationship.

* You don't express your opinions or feelings as much as you did before. It doesn't seem safe, they now seem unimportant, or would only cause trouble.

* You catch yourself altering your thoughts to please or avoiding displeasing another person.

* You find that you can't seem to succeed at something simple like being on time when you are with the person you suspect of abusing you.

* The other person in the relationship has two standards of behavior, one for the outside world where he is well respected and competent, and another for home.

* The other person is secretive about his personal life and asks you to help maintain fictions about it.

* You have, in the middle of or after an argument or episode the uncanny feeling that you have been there many times before, that you know how it will end, and that it will recur again.

* Your friends or loved ones express concern about the other person's efforts to control you, or his unfair treatment of you or your child.

* Things or experiences that are precious to you are "trashed" by the other person. Or possessions that are special unaccountably disappear, or are "accidentally" broken or lost or damaged.

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Narcissism's One-Track Mind

by Kathy Krajco

One thing people who haven't known a narcissist for a very long time and intimately don't realize is that narcissists give new meaning to the term "one-track mind." They are always on.

They may keep a lid on it with their boss and/or other people they don't dare treat as they would like, but the proof lies in how they treat the people they can play games with.

They are in game-playing mode 100% of the time. Everything, every interaction with them is viewed and treated by them as some sort of worthiness competition.
The childishness is something one must see to believe, and even then it's unbelievable. I went for decades before I finally had to admit that the narcissists I knew were so petty and childish that their game got all the way down to such silly things as having to have YOU call THEM, no matter what, just to support their delusions that YOU were the "needy" one. Yes (projection), YOU were the one who needed an ear to talk off. They were dying to talk at you about themselves, but it would have killed them to come down off that pedestal and pick up the phone. So, when you finally did call for some reason, you hardly had "hello" out of you your mouth before you were done talking and just listening for the next three hours.

But that's just one example. I could name hundreds of these childish games they play with virtually any everyday human interaction.

They are God, so they can't dispretend that by owing you anything. That would be a come-down from their grandiosity. Nor can they be in the wrong in any matter with you. They are perfect, and you are relative dirt. And EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAPPENS MUST PROOVE THAT.

If you choose to live with a narcissist, you are choosing to tolerate having everything that happens twisted so it seems to proove that.

God can't apologize, because God can't do anything wrong. God can't thank you for anything, because no mere piss ant can do the great God a favor. Ask to so much as borrow a pen and the narcissist will find some way to play the interaction as a schtick for their own self-aggrandizement. Which usually means some sort of put-down for you = the Teeter Totter Game.

That's what they do. That's how they survive. That's what they live for. Pure, unadulterated, and utterly foolish vanity, period.

It's amazing that they don't at least get bored with this stupid game!

But they don't. And this is why they do stupid things.

They are always preoccupied with the Game and not considering the matter at hand, let alone the possible future consequences.
They really shouldn't be given the the rights and priviledges of an adult I sometimes think, because I strongly doubt that they mentally qualify as one. Like kids, they are lost in their own little world and don't think past lunch.

This is strange, but true. Truth is always stranger than fiction with these folks.


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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Manipulative People

How To Deal with Them
An Excerpt from the book: In Sheep's Clothing

By George K. Simon

Two Basic Types of Aggression
There are two basic types of aggression: overt-aggression and covert-aggression. When you're determined to have something and you're open, direct and obvious in your manner of fighting, your behavior is best labeled overtly aggressive. When you're out to "win," dominate or control, but are subtle, underhanded or deceptive enough to hide your true intentions, your behavior is most appropriately labeled covertly aggressive. Now, avoiding any overt display of aggression while simultaneously intimidating others into giving you what you want is a powerfully manipulative maneuver. That's why covert-aggression is most often the vehicle for interpersonal manipulation.
Acts of Covert-Aggression vs. Covert-Aggressive Personalities
Most of us have engaged in some sort of covertly aggressive behavior from time to time. Periodically trying to manipulate a person or a situation doesn't make someone a covert-aggressive personality. Personality can be defined by the way a person habitually perceives, relates to and interacts with others and the world at large.
The tactics of deceit, manipulation and control are a steady diet for covert-aggressive personality. It's the way they prefer to deal with others and to get the things they want in life.

The Process of Victimization

For a long time, I wondered why manipulation victims have a hard time seeing what really goes on in manipulative interactions. At first, I was tempted to fault them. But I've learned that they get hoodwinked for some very good reasons:
A manipulator's aggression is not obvious. Our gut may tell us that they're fighting for something, struggling to overcome us, gain power, or have their way, and we find ourselves unconsciously on the defensive. But because we can't point to clear, objective evidence they're aggressing against us, we can't readily validate our feelings.

The tactics manipulators use can make it seem like they're hurting, caring, defending, ..., almost anything but fighting. These tactics are hard to recognize as merely clever ploys. They always make just enough sense to make a person doubt their gut hunch that they're being taken advantage of or abused. Besides, the tactics not only make it hard for you to consciously and objectively tell that a manipulator is fighting, but they also simultaneously keep you or consciously on the defensive. These features make them highly effective psychological weapons to which anyone can be vulnerable. It's hard to think clearly when someone has you emotionally on the run.

All of us have weaknesses and insecurities that a clever manipulator might exploit. Sometimes, we're aware of these weaknesses and how someone might use them to take advantage of us. For example, I hear parents say things like: "Yeah, I know I have a big guilt button." – But at the time their manipulative child is busily pushing that button, they can easily forget what's really going on. Besides, sometimes we're unaware of our biggest vulnerabilities. Manipulators often know us better than we know ourselves. They know what buttons to push, when and how hard. Our lack of self-knowledge sets us up to be exploited.

What our gut tells us a manipulator is like, challenges everything we've been taught to believe about human nature. We've been inundated with a psychology that has us seeing everybody, at least to some degree, as afraid, insecure or "hung-up." So, while our gut tells us we're dealing with a ruthless conniver, our head tells us they must be really frightened or wounded "underneath." What's more, most of us generally hate to think of ourselves as callous and insensitive people. We hesitate to make harsh or seemingly negative judgments about others. We want to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they don't really harbor the malevolent intentions we suspect. We're more apt to doubt and blame ourselves for daring to believe what our gut tells us about our manipulator's character.

Recognizing Aggressive Agendas
Accepting how fundamental it is for people to fight for the things they want and becoming more aware of the subtle, underhanded ways people can and do fight in their daily endeavors and relationships can be very consciousness expanding. Learning to recognize an aggressive move when somebody makes one and learning how to handle oneself in any of life's many battles, has turned out to be the most empowering experience for the manipulation victims with whom I've worked. It's how they eventually freed themselves from their manipulator's dominance and control and gained a much needed boost to their own sense of self esteem. Recognizing the inherent aggression in manipulative behavior and becoming more aware of the slick, surreptitious ways that manipulative people prefer to aggress against us is extremely important. Not recognizing and accurately labeling their subtly aggressive moves causes most people to misinterpret the behavior of manipulators and, therefore, fail to respond to them in an appropriate fashion. Recognizing when and how manipulators are fighting with covertly aggressive tactics is essential.

Defense Mechanisms and Offensive Tactics
Almost everyone is familiar with the term defense mechanism. Defense mechanisms are the "automatic" (i.e. unconscious) mental behaviors all of us employ to protect or defend ourselves from the "threat" of some emotional pain. More specifically, ego defense mechanisms are mental behaviors we use to "defend" our self-images from "invitations" to feel ashamed or guilty about something. There are many different kinds of ego defenses and the more traditional (psychodynamic) theories of personality have always tended to distinguish the various personality types, at least in part, by the types of ego defenses they prefer to use. One of the problems with psychodynamic approaches to understanding human behavior is that they tend to depict people as most always afraid of something and defending or protecting themselves in some way; even when they're in the act of aggressing. Covert-aggressive personalities (indeed all aggressive personalities) use a variety of mental behaviors and interpersonal maneuvers to help ensure they get what they want. Some of these behaviors have been traditionally thought of as defense mechanisms.

While, from a certain perspective we might say someone engaging in these behaviors is defending their ego from any sense of shame or guilt, it's important to realize that at the time the aggressor is exhibiting these behaviors, he is not primarily defending (i.e. attempting to prevent some internally painful event from occurring), but rather fighting to maintain position, gain power and to remove any obstacles (both internal and external) in the way of getting what he wants. Seeing the aggressor as on the defensive in any sense is a set-up for victimization. Recognizing that they're primarily on the offensive, mentally prepares a person for the decisive action they need to take in order to avoid being run over. Therefore, I think it's best to conceptualize many of the mental behaviors (no matter how "automatic" or "unconscious" they may appear) we often think of as defense mechanisms, as offensive power tactics, because aggressive personalities employ them primarily to manipulate, control and achieve dominance over others. Rather than trying to prevent something emotionally painful or dreadful from happening, anyone using these tactics is primarily trying to ensure that something they want to happen does indeed happen. Using the vignettes presented in the previous chapters for illustration, let's take a look at the principal tactics covert-aggressive personalities use to ensure they get their way and maintain a position of power over their victims:

Denial This is when the aggressor refuses to admit that they've done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It's a way they lie (to themselves as well as to others) about their aggressive intentions. This "Who... Me?" tactic is a way of "playing innocent," and invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It's also the way the aggressor gives him/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do. This denial is not the same kind of denial that a person who has just lost a loved one and can't quite bear to accept the pain and reality of the loss engages in. That type of denial really is mostly a "defense" against unbearable hurt and anxiety. Rather, this type of denial is not primarily a "defense" but a maneuver the aggressor uses to get others to back off, back down or maybe even feel guilty themselves for insinuating he's doing something wrong.

In the story of James the minister, James' denial of his ruthless ambition is massive. He denied he was hurting and neglecting his family. He especially denied he was aggressively pursuing any personal agenda. On the contrary, he cast himself as the humble servant to a honorable cause. He managed to convince several people (and maybe even himself) of the nobility and purity of his intentions. But underneath it all, James knew he was being dishonest: This fact is borne out in his reaction to the threat of not getting a seat on the Elders' Council if his marital problems worsened. When James learned he might not get what he was so aggressively pursuing after all, he had an interesting "conversion" experience. All of a sudden, he decided he could put aside the Lord's bidding for a weekend and he might really need to devote more time to his marriage and family. James' eyes weren't opened by the pastor's words. He always kept his awareness high about what might hinder or advance his cause. He knew if he didn't tend to his marriage he might lose what he really wanted. So, he chose (at least temporarily) to alter course.

In the story of Joe and Mary, Mary confronted Joe several times about what she felt was insensitivity and ruthlessness on his part in his treatment of Lisa. Joe denied his aggressiveness. He also successfully convinced Mary that what she felt in her gut was his aggressiveness was really conscientiousness, loyalty, and passionate fatherly concern. Joe wanted a daughter who got all A's. Mary stood in the way. Joe's denial was the tactic he used to remove Mary as an obstacle to what he wanted.

Selective Inattention
This tactic is similar to and sometimes mistaken for denial It's when the aggressor "plays dumb," or acts oblivious. When engaging in this tactic, the aggressor actively ignores the warnings, pleas or wishes of others, and in general, refuses to pay attention to everything and anything that might distract them from pursuing their own agenda. Often, the aggressor knows full well what you want from him when he starts to exhibit this "I don't want to hear it!" behavior. By using this tactic, the aggressor actively resists submitting himself to the tasks of paying attention to or refraining from the behavior you want him to change. In the story of Jenny and Amanda, Jenny tried to tell Amanda she was losing privileges because she was behaving irresponsibly. But Amanda wouldn't listen. Her teachers tried to tell her what she needed to do to improve her grade: but she didn't listen to them either. Actively listening to and heeding the suggestions of someone else are, among other things, acts of submission. And, as you may remember from the story, Amanda is not a girl who submits easily. Determined to let nothing stand in her way and convinced she could eventually "win" most of her power struggles with authority figures through manipulation, Amanda closed her ears. She didn't see any need to listen. From her point of view, she would only have lost some power and control if she submitted herself to the guidance and direction offered by those whom she views as less powerful, clever and capable as herself.

A rationalization is the excuse an aggressor tries to offer for engaging in an inappropriate or harmful behavior. It can be an effective tactic, especially when the explanation or justification the aggressor offers makes just enough sense that any reasonably conscientious person is likely to fall for it. It's a powerful tactic because it not only serves to remove any internal resistance the aggressor might have about doing what he wants to do (quieting any qualms of conscience he might have) but also to keep others off his back. If the aggressor can convince you he's justified in whatever he's doing, then he's freer to pursue his goals without interference.

In the story of little Lisa, Mary felt uneasy about the relentlessness with which Joe pursued his quest to make his daughter an obedient, all-A student once again. And, she was aware of Lisa's expressed desire to pursue counseling as a means of addressing and perhaps solving some of her problems. Although Mary felt uneasy about Joe's forcefulness and sensed the impact on her daughter, she allowed herself to become persuaded by his rationalizations that any concerned parent ought to know his daughter better than some relatively dispassionate outsider and that he was only doing his duty by doing as much as he possibly could to "help" his "little girl." When a manipulator really wants to make headway with their rationalizations they'll be sure their excuses are combined with other effective tactics. For example, when Joe was "selling" Mary on the justification for shoving his agenda down everyone's throat he was also sending out subtle invitations for her to feel ashamed (shaming her for not being as "concerned" a parent as he was) as well as making her feel guilty (guilt-tripping her) for not being as conscientious as he was pretending to be.

A moving target is hard to hit. When we try to pin a manipulator down or try to keep a discussion focused on a single issue or behavior we don't like, he's expert at knowing how to change the subject, dodge the issue or in some way throw us a curve. Manipulators use distraction and diversion techniques to keep the focus off their behavior, move us off-track, and keep themselves free to promote their self-serving hidden agendas.

Rather than respond directly to the issue being addressed, Amanda diverted attention to her teacher's and classmates' treatment of her. Jenny allowed Amanda to steer her off track. She never got a straight answer to the question.

Another example of a diversion tactic can be found in the story of Don and Al. Al changed the subject when Don asked him if he had any plans to replace him. He focused on whether he was unhappy or not with Don's sales performance – as if that's what Don had asked him about in the first place. He never gave Don a straight answer to a straight question (manipulators are notorious for this). He told him what he thought would make Don feel less anxious and would steer him away from pursuing the matter any further. Al left feeling like he'd gotten an answer but all he really got was the "runaround."

Early in the current school year, I found it necessary to address my son's irresponsibility about doing his homework by making a rule that he bring his books home every night. One time I asked: "Did you bring your books home today?" His response was: "Guess what, Dad. Instead of tomorrow, we're not going to have our test – until Friday." My question was simple and direct. His answer was deliberately evasive and diversionary. He knew that if he answered the question directly and honestly, he would have received a consequence for failing to bring his books home. By using diversion (and also offering a rationalization) he was already fighting with me to avoid that consequence. Whenever someone is not responding directly to an issue, you can safely assume that for some reason, they're trying to give you the slip.

It's often hard to tell when a person is lying at the time he's doing it. Fortunately, there are times when the truth will out because circumstances don't bear out somebody's story. But there are also times when you don't know you've been deceived until it's too late. One way to minimize the chances that someone will put one over on you is to remember that because aggressive personalities of all types will generally stop at nothing to get what they want, you can expect them to lie and cheat. Another thing to remember is that manipulators – covert-aggressive personalities that they are – are prone to lie in subtle, covert ways. Courts are well aware of the many ways that people lie, as they require that court oaths charge that testifiers tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Manipulators often lie by withholding a significant amount of the truth from you or by distorting the truth. They are adept at being vague when you ask them direct questions. This is an especially slick way of lying' omission. Keep this in mind when dealing with a suspected wolf in sheep's clothing. Always seek and obtain specific, confirmable information.

Covert Intimidation
Aggressors frequently threaten their victims to keep them anxious, apprehensive and in a one-down position. Covert-aggressives intimidate their victims by making veiled (subtle, indirect or implied) threats. Guilt-tripping and shaming are two of the covert-aggressive's favourite weapons. Both are special intimidation tactics.

One thing that aggressive personalities know well is that other types of persons have very different consciences than they do. Manipulators are often skilled at using what they know to be the greater conscientiousness of their victims as a means of keeping them in a self-doubting, anxious, and submissive position. The more conscientious the potential victim, the more effective guilt is as a weapon. Aggressive personalities of all types use guilt-tripping so frequently and effectively as a manipulative tactic, that I believe it illustrates how fundamentally different in character they are compared to other (especially neurotic) personalities. All a manipulator has to do is suggest to the conscientious person that they don't care enough, are too selfish, etc., and that person immediately starts to feel bad. On the contrary, a conscientious person might try until they're blue in the face to get a manipulator (or any other aggressive personality) to feel badly about a hurtful behavior, acknowledge responsibility, or admit wrongdoing, to absolutely no avail.

This is the technique of using subtle sarcasm and put-downs as a means of increasing fear and self-doubt in others. Covert-aggressives use this tactic to make others feel inadequate or unworthy, and therefore, defer to them. It's an effective way to foster a continued sense of personal inadequacy in the weaker party, thereby allowing an aggressor to maintain a position of dominance.

When Joe loudly proclaimed any "good" parent would do just as he was doing to help Lisa, he subtly implied Mary would be a "bad" parent if she didn't attempt to do the same. He "invited" her to feel ashamed of herself. The tactic was effective. Mary eventually felt ashamed for taking a position that made it appear she didn't care enough about her own daughter. Even more doubtful of her worth as a person and a parent, Mary deferred to Joe, thus enabling him to rein a position of dominance over her. Covert-aggressives are expert at using shaming tactics in the most subtle ways. Sometimes it can just be in the glances they give or the tone of voice they use. Using rhetorical comments, subtle sarcasm and other techniques, they can invite you to feel ashamed of yourself for even daring to challenge them. Joe tried to shame Mary when I considered accepting the educational assessment performed by Lisa's school. He said something like: "I'm not sure what kind of doctor you are or just what kind of credentials you have, but I'm sure you'd agree that a youngster's grades wouldn't slip as much as Lisa's for no reason. You couldn't be entirely certain she didn't have a learning disability unless you did some testing, could you?' With those words, he "invited" Mary to feel ashamed of herself for not at least considering doing just as he asked. If Mary didn't have a suspicion about what he was up to, she might have accepted this invitation without a second thought.

Playing the Victim Role
This tactic involves portraying oneself as an innocent victim of circumstances or someone else's behavior in order to gain sympathy, evoke compassion and thereby get something from another. One thing that covert-aggressive personalities count on is the fact that less calloused and less hostile personalities usually can't stand to see anyone suffering. Therefore, the tactic is simple. Convince your victim you're suffering in some way, and they'll try to relieve your distress.

In the story of Amanda and Jenny, Amanda was good at playing the victim role too. She had her mother believing that she (Amanda) was the victim of extremely unfair treatment and the target of unwarranted hostility. I remember Jenny telling me: "Sometimes I think Amanda's wrong when she says her teacher hates her and I hate her. But what if that's what she really believes? Can I afford to be so firm with her if she believes in her heart that I hate her?" I remember telling Jenny: "Whether Amanda has come to believe her own distortions is almost irrelevant. She manipulates you because you believe that she believes it and allow that supposed belief to serve as an excuse for her undisciplined aggression."

Vilifying the Victim
This tactic is frequently used in conjunction with the tactic of playing the victim role. The aggressor uses this tactic to make it appear he is only responding (i.e. defending himself against) aggression on the part of the victim. It enables the aggressor to better put the victim on the defensive.

Returning again to the story of Jenny and Amanda, when Amanda accuses her mother of "hating" her and "always saying mean things" to her, she not only invites Jenny to feel the "bully," but simultaneously succeeds in "bullying" Jenny into backing off. More than any other, the tactic of vilifying the victim is a powerful means of putting someone unconsciously on the defensive while simultaneously masking the aggressive intent and behavior of the person using the tactic.

Playing the Servant Role
Covert-aggressives use this tactic to cloak their self-serving agendas in the guise of service to a more noble cause. It's a common tactic but difficult to recognize. By pretending to be working hard on someone else's behalf, covert-aggressives conceal their own ambition, desire for power, and quest for a position of dominance over others. In the story of James (the minister) and Sean, James appeared to many to be the tireless servant. He attended more activities than he needed to attend and did so eagerly. But if devoted service to those who needed him was his aim, how does one explain the degree to which James habitually neglected his family? As an aggressive personality, James submits himself to no one. The only master he serves is his own ambition. Not only was playing the servant role an effective tactic for James, but also it's the cornerstone upon which corrupt ministerial empires of all types are built. A good example comes to mind in the recent true story of a well-known tele-evangelist who locked himself up in a room in a purported display of "obedience" and "service" to God. He even portrayed himself' a willing sacrificial lamb who was prepared to be "taken by God" if he didn't do the Almighty's bidding and raise eight million dollars. He claimed he was a humble servant, merely heeding the Lord's will. He was really fighting to save his substantial material empire.

Another recent scandal involving a tele-evangelist resulted in his church's governance body censuring him for one year. But he told his congregation he couldn't stop his ministry because he had to be faithful to the Lord's will (God supposedly talked to him and told him not to quit). This minister was clearly being defiant of his church's established authority. Yet, he presented himself as a person being humbly submissive to the "highest" authority. One hallmark characteristic of covert-aggressive personalities is loudly professing subservience while fighting for dominance.

Covert-aggressive personalities are adept at charming, praising, flattering or overtly supporting others in order to get them to lower their defenses and surrender their trust and loyalty. Covert-aggressives are also particularly aware that people who are to some extent emotionally needy and dependent (and that includes most people who aren't character-disordered) want approval, reassurance, and a sense of being valued and needed more than anything. Appearing to be attentive to these needs can be a manipulator's ticket to incredible power over others. Shady "gurus" like Jim Jones and David Koresh seemed to have refined this tactic to an art. In the story of Al and Don, Al is the consummate seducer. He melts any resistance you might have to giving him your loyalty and confidence. He does this by giving you what he knows you need most. He knows you want to feel valued and important. So, he often tells you that you are. You don't find out how unimportant you really are to him until you turn out to be in his way.

Projecting the blame (blaming others
) Aggressive personalities are always looking for a way to shift the blame for their aggressive behavior. Covert-aggressives are not only skilled at finding scapegoats, they're expert at doing so in subtle, hard to detect ways.

This tactic is a unique kind of denial coupled with rationalization. When using this maneuver, the aggressor is attempting to assert that his abusive behavior isn't really as harmful or irresponsible as someone else may be claiming. It's the aggressor's attempt to make a molehill out of a mountain.
I've presented the principal tactics that covert-aggressives use to manipulate and control others. They are not always easy to recognize. Although all aggressive personalities tend to use these tactics, covert-aggressives generally use them slickly, subtly and adeptly. Anyone dealing with a covertly aggressive person will need to heighten gut-level sensitivity to the use of these tactics if they're to avoid being taken in by them.

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shared by Barbara at 12:02 AM 13 comments