Manipulators Like to Vilify their Victims
Manipulative abusers are covert-aggressors. (For more on this read: In Sheep’s Clothing.) They have their way with you by fighting cleverly and underhandedly. And they use a variety of tactics to con you. (See also, for example: Rationalizing Away Wrongdoings.) However, they particularly enjoy playing the victim game.
The aim of this game is simple: create confusion about who the real victim is. And manipulators do that in two ways. They can try to convince the true victim that they’re the one actually hurt. Or, they can make the victim out to be the villain and aggressor. Moreover, they can put the two tactics together. That way, they deliver a powerful one-two manipulative punch. “I’m the injured one and you’re the cause, ” the aggressor asserts. It’s how they play the victim and vilify the real victim. And, unfortunately, the strategy often works.
I’ve seen some pretty egregious examples of aggressors who vilify their victims. I’ve witnessed many a domestic batterer convince a spouse they brought their injuries upon themselves. And I have even interviewed murderers who wanted me to feel sorry for the injustice they suffered that “made” them lash out. Manipulators can go to great lengths to cast themselves as victims and vilify others.
Do They Really Believe What They Say?
Folks who rationalize, blame others, and play the victim will make you scratch your head. You may wonder if they actually believe the ridiculous things they spout. And you may even tempted to try and get them to see things differently. But most of the time, you’d only be wasting your time. That’s because they actually know better. But they want you to believe what they say. And if you buy into their arguments, they succeed in manipulating you. (See also: Manipulators: Do They Really Believe What They’re Saying?)
A Matter of Responsibility
All the tactics we’ve been talking about the past few weeks represent ways to shirk responsibility. And perhaps there’s no greater evil besides not being accountable oneself than to falsely blame others. As I discuss in all my books, professionals have long had it wrong about these responsibility-avoidance behaviors. And, unfortunately, some still think that rationalizers, minimizers, etc. are just trying to assuage guilt pangs. Moreover, they assume such folks do so unconsciously. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Whenever someone is engaged in the tactics we’ve been talking about, they’re not unconsciously defending anything. Primarily, they’re fighting. Fighting what? Fighting accountability. They’re actively resisting taking to heart important values and standards of conduct. And they’re doing so knowingly and stubbornly. Secondarily, they may want to maintain a positive social image. We call that the game of “impression management.” And it’s a conscious and deliberate game, too. All this keeps a person from forging good character.
Traditional psychology principles have disadvantaged many abuse victims. These principles taught us that inner wounds and emotional conflicts drive most behavior. And they also taught us that most people aren’t very aware of these things. And that’s precisely what prompts abuse victims to try way too hard to understand the actions of their oppressors. I’ll have a lot to say about the folly of this in next week’s post.
As always, my sincere thanks for recommending my books and this blog to others.
More information on upcoming workshops will soon appear on the Seminars page.
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