Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How Abusers Trap their Victims by Manipulating an Audience

By: Dianne Heath



   

     The abuser needs background pressure that influences the victimized individual's perceptions of his or her environment, belief of available options and then induces subsequent dis-empowered behavior. One form of background pressure is creating and manipulating an audience for the relationship. Abusers deploy what I call, public entrapment. Public entrapment derives its efficacy and power from tools used privately to entrap a victim which usually involves teaching the individual to dishonor him or herself. I will focus on public entrapment because Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran offer a timely case study. 

     A predominate tool in the toolbox is how the abuser manipulates their shared social environment so that the victimized individual ceases to generate sympathy from the public. This is why Chris Brown consciously or unconsciously prefers for his breakups with Karrueche Tran to be on the stage for public consumption, despite the ridicule of both parties that invariably ensues. Depleting the sympathy of the public whether it’s the victims’ family, mutual friends or in this case fans is used as a trap by abusers.


Karrueche Tran's Christmas gifts by Chris Brown
Depletion of Sympathy 
     The victim must appear to hold an enviable position. Perceptions by the public or the relationship's personal audience of the victim's enviable position creates an illusion of the terms of condition for their eyes. The victim must be in an outwardly enviable position that invites jealously and third party pressure for the victim to feel gratitude for their supposedly good fortune. Never mind that the despite the external rewards, the abuse is destroying the victimized individual inwardly ironically negating the benefits for the enviable position. Never mind also that the external rewards aren't for the victimized individual's long term benefit but a tool of control for the abuser. The abuser doesn't want to provide internal enrichment with genuine love (and may not even have the capacity to provide love) because a healthy mind that loves itself is less easy to trap. Self-love strengthens the capacity and resolve to exit ruin. The abuser wants the victimized individual to continue pursuing external rewards that the abusers use to control the individual and the perceptions of the relationship’s audience. These deceptive rewards obstruct the victimized individual from their healing. But the public doesn't perceive this and the abuser can manipulate this collective blindness to their advantage against the victim. The public can't see these motives but green eyes can gaze upon a luxury vehicle and diamond rings. Many times even the victim will outwardly compare themselves to others and believe this deceptive narrative his or herself, while overlooking the long term damage to their emotional and psychological health. 

     The abusers are benevolent dictators who have bestowed upon you a platform or designed the template for your only chance at success. Or they abused you for your own good because that was the only way you have achieved, (diminishing your innate drive and qualities). If a person was willing to deal with the abuse to achieve, wouldn't that imply that the individual's  intrinsic motivation would had compelled them to strive and thus do not need abuse? Your intangible value becomes invisible; even when a victimized individual is reduced to being a punching bag despite the fact that this resilience has intangible value to the abuser who has someone to absorb their hatred so that they wouldn't unleash the self-destruction on themselves. Without the victim to feel powerful, the abuser wouldn't have the motivation or energy to even build an illusion or the talent to exploit. Chris Brown needs the public to know that he sacrificed for her and without him she wouldn't have her status. Yes, the relationship is not perfect but you have 2 million Instagram followers, and the "haters" who are telling you to leave don't. In abusive households there can be the illusion of upstanding, successful with good parents to assuage the public image while there is private decay. Abusers with less resources are largely limited to providing transient emotional and psychological rewards. But these rewards are conditional and shallow. From the outside the victimized individual can appear loved but are truly despised. 

     The idea that someone else might be more fulfilling inwardly despite having less external rewards is not discussed. Other scenarios are not presented to the audience, only an image that serves the abuser. Perhaps the abuser noticed the victimized individual’s essence and targeted the individual for exploitation and then lied by pretending they created the individual’s essence. Perhaps the abuser created such an abusive environment they transformed what the individual loved into something painful thus covertly limiting the individual’s potential. Perhaps they stressed the individual which dampened their capacity to capitalize on opportunities the abuser has "showered" on them. Perhaps the abuser took over the individual’s life making it impossible for the individual to realize their full potential or discover their own profitable niche. Perhaps the abuser stunted the individual’s growth or overemphasized one profitable aspect of the while the others remain anemic. Or controlled the individual with bad advice masquerading as caring advice. Perhaps the abuser covertly sabotaged the individual while in front of an audience bragged about what they've done for the individual. Perhaps the individual succeeded in spite of the abuser and not because of their malevolent presence. 

     But these instances are not presented to the audience and are usually not in the consciousness of the victim who devalued his or her positive attributes while the abuser’s minor "contributions" are disproportionately attributed to their success. Privately the victimized individual has dishonored their capacity to make it as far without the abuser and have emphasized deceptive external rewards over a healthy heart and mind. This narrative diminishes the victimized's intangibles. Abusers will conveniently ignore the initial power and resource imbalance to create the image as a savior even though you actually put more effort in relation your power, time and available resources. The individual's subsequent behavior must honor be them as a savior. Abusers with less resources than Chris Brown will create an enviable situation like telling someone your past successes or achievements. Others may harp on your enviable physical traits or talents in front of others with poor body image and/or low self esteem. 

     Constant public breakups are opportunities for abusers. Each breakup most be more critical and believable than the next. Not only is this the reorientation process, but it depletes the sympathy of audience the individual desperately needs in support of in such a dangerous and vulnerable time. This works to create universal disappointment and an incredulous social environment that disrespects the individual. If the individual is in an enviable position that the abuser has created, the narrative of a woman desperate to maintain her luxurious lifestyle, despite abuse may float in people's minds. In reality since the audience’s participation is only public and passive yet not private and intimate, their comprehension of events would be impossible. 

     The public especially stops rooting for the victimized individual when the individual chastises the audience for celebrating the dissolution their demise and then defends the abuser. People hate feeling foolish. Now the public resents the individual and have a natural suspicion of the individual's intentions. Now the abuser has manipulated the individual's identity to the public as a complicit, masochistic and sick individual trying to exploit their sympathies even though the individual secretly knows they are not leaving. Heck maybe even the abuser and the victimized individual are colluding break ups for attention!  The individual will be perceived as ready and willing to be punished, who knows exactly what he or she is getting into and is undeserving of continued sympathy. Now when the individual is truly serious about escaping, the support needed is gone and background pressure intensifies. 


Entrapment by Dishonor 
     Now that the victimized individual is depleted of sympathy, the abuser moves to create a hostile environment by "exposing"  the individual while they simultaneously become the only person willing to redeem and work with this inherently soiled individual. Victims who are already in vulnerable circumstances, have unfamiliar characteristics or struggles (which can be conveniently defined by the abusers to fit their purpose) or marginalized are easier to control with background pressure because the public is already biased against them. They attach stigmatized behavior that imply the individual’s tainted nature and identity so that no decent individual can identify with them or want to support them. They need to misconstrue the individual’s behavior, failures, struggles and unique characteristics. The individual didn't fail because he or she was depressed and trying to recover from a traumatic event, the individual failed because he or she inherently doesn’t value opportunities and therefore doesn't deserve to be saved by someone loving. Now the abuser and victim are both equally flawed and perfectly suited for each other despite the discrepancy of harm inflicted. 

    By claiming by Karrueche had threesomes validates that she was willing to the reprehensible to stay in the relationship, so she really doesn't feel abused. Most importantly it implies that she is immoral and too dirty for a stable and loving relationship. Abusers enjoy exposing individual by divulging in the dirty details of what you were willing to for them; never mind that the individual was probably manipulated, didn't understand the implications what they were doing, had low self-worth, was threatened or the abusers has been steadily manipulating perceptions of individual of who they are. Now the victimized individual is punished for obeying, even though abusers demand obedience as love. With enough exposure and humiliation the victim sees her support dissolve and she feels that she has become worthless to her social environment. The fact that she was accused of cheating on him supposedly negates his behavior. Only questions of her loyalty is shared for public scrutiny. Now they are equally perverse. My question... why does he still want her if she so horrible enough to cheat, so soiled, so perverse and enjoys abuse?
Apology Art

Notes about the Victim 
     Does the victim have perfect intentions in the relationship? No. Was the victim taught these new priorities for the relationship? Yes. Is the abuser being exploited as they claim? Absolutely not. Usually a victim has low self-esteem and/or low self-worth. Their definitions of a loving relationship and their priorities in a relationship are malleable, which is perfect for the abuser. At the beginning the victimized individual is desperately looking for love. The victim might be suffering through a horrible situation and asks for emotional support. But the victim doesn't even know if they truly deserve emotional support or in extreme cases doesn't know what emotional support looks like. So what does the abuser do...well they don't want to give love, they just want power so they'll give the victim money instead of emotional support and tell her that is emotional support. They teach the victim what to accept as love. Eventually the victimized individual with low self-esteem will give up on genuine expressions of love and accept gifts or the controllable external rewards as love. But this works against the victim because this changes her priorities from something honorable to dishonorable. When the victim attempts to escape, the abuser can take on the position as the victim who was exploited. 

What the Victim Must Do 

     A victim’s decision to escape should not be manipulated by these questions. These questions of how much of their partner’s behavior is deliberate are important for planning the escape because they have implications but if the victim doesn't like their treatment, whether it is love does not reduce the damage. For example, financial abuse may not feel like abuse if the abuser can manipulate perceptions and declare it’s for the victims own good, but in the end the damage to credit, work history and personal control is very real. The abuser has already taught you that the core of your identity is being a victim (and/or a child!) and has rewarded you for being a victim (and/or child) by implicitly socializing the individual to the abuser's painful definitions of "love". But now it is time to pan out and evaluate the situation in its entirety. The stories about the uncontrollable yet loving abuser and you the victim can cloud judgment. Eschew these deceptive narratives or you'll remain entangled. Take away narratives about the abusers identity, their implicitly narratives about your identity and peek into reality. Then you can take on rational behaviors.

This post was inspired by the Chris Brown and Karrueche Tran debacle and by the book Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen.

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