Saturday, May 02, 2009

Identifying the Predator: Spiritual, Financial, and Sexual Abusers

As some of you know, I've been involved for decades now in trying to do something about predators in our communities. And as some of you also know, one of the reasons I do it is that I, and some of those I love, have been harmed by these con men (the vicious predators I've dealt with have all been men). The reason they were able to fool some of us long enough to hurt us is because they are skilled at it; it's what they do. Hopefully this information will help those who may have been victimized. Even better, maybe it will help someone spot a predator before they have a chance to harm them.

I think this is the first time I've reposted an entire article by someone else on this blog. It's worth it.

My gratitude to RedRightHand over at NAFPS for permission to repost this in full.

Identifying the Predator: Spiritual, Financial, and Sexual Abusers

There are common traits, common behaviors in human predators of all kinds. Spiritual scammers often operate the same way and use the same methods as other types of criminal con artists, batterers, and rapists. These different kinds of abuse often blend into each other.

A liar doesn’t just tell falsehoods/lies to strangers or only in certain situations. A liar routinely lies to everyone. In the same way, a spiritual fraud is not just a spiritual liar. He or she will always lie about other things as well.

Understanding these patterns of deceit among abusers and rapists gives us direct insight into the patterns of spiritual frauds. The following points are offered specifically about the patterns of physical abusers but the parallels to spiritual exploiters should be clear. The aim of this post is to help people in spotting frauds before they can do harm, and to help those who have been harmed find help.

1. Abusers are charming and tend to be very skilled at social manipulation.

2. They are skilled liars. They will also declare they are very honest and honorable but their actual actions will show otherwise.

3. They are in control of their actions, not out-of-control. They do not harm everyone they meet. They are very careful to abuse people they feel confident they can get away with harming, such as wives/girlfriends, children, “apprentices,” or those they are “instructing” ceremonially. Substance abuse may increase their aggression but you should never accept being high/drunk as an excuse for their actions. They are far more in control of their actions than they let on and they also harm their victims when sober.

4. They blame others for their behavior. “The abuser shifts responsibility for his actions away from himself and onto others, a shift that allows him to justify his abuse because the other person supposedly "caused" his behavior.” The fact is, abusing another person is a choice. It is the fault of no one but the abuser.

5. While “friends” and acquaintances will be subjected to manipulation, lies and sometimes emotional abuse, usually only the abuser’s intimate partners and immediate family will see the monstrous side of them. Abusers are very invested in their public image, and will use acquaintances to lie for them and/or pass on their lies in their defense. They will spend a great deal of time lying to non-intimate “friends” to lay a false trail of misdirection and alibis. On the internet and in long-distance phone calls, it is particularly easy for abusers to construct a good front for their online friends who may never meet them in person.

6. Abusers specialize in finding out your vulnerabilities. In the beginning they will tell you how special you are. They will encourage you to confess your fears and vulnerabilities, and they will make a good show of being vulnerable themselves (even though it is just an act and built on lies). They do this to make you emotionally dependent on them, and so later they can use these things to harm and manipulate you.

7. They will seem too good to be true. And they are.

*** *** ***

There is a common misconception that predators and abusers are easy to spot, that they display obvious signs of their predatory nature. While there are warning signs to look out for (linked below), predators have carefully tailored their disguises through their years of abusing others and getting away with it.

If predators weren’t skilled at convincing potential victims and supporters that they’re a nice guy (and those who commit physical abuse are overwhelmingly male), they wouldn’t be successful at what they do. They’ve learned how to fool and manipulate people. It’s their profession. If they weren’t good at fooling people, they would have moved on to some other way of making a living by now. By the time an abuser is middle-aged or elderly, they are very experienced at it; they are not going to change.

Abusive behavior usually starts after the victim has made an emotional, spiritual, and/or financial commitment to the predator. Abuse usually starts right after some milestone: moving in together, getting married, pregnancy, or the birth of the first child. With spiritual predators, it’s often once the victim has made a ceremonial commitment and/or given the predator a large amount of money. Once that investment on the part of the victim is there, the predator knows the victim will be hesitant to throw away all that time and effort they’ve invested in the relationship. By that point the abuser has probably also isolated the victim from other sources of support and information, and has made sure the victim sees them as the unquestionable source of the truth.

The vast majority of rapists don’t hang out in alleys to commit “stranger” rape. “Over 70% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the survivor knows. Over 40% of sexual assaults occur in the victim's home and another 30% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative.”

If you’ve been abused, there is help available. Once you know the patterns to look for, abusers are much easier to spot. Remember, if someone has harmed you, you can bet there are other victims out there. If everyone who has been abused speaks up, the world will change. Those who work the hotlines, who counsel victims of domestic violence and other forms of sexual and spiritual abuse, have heard it all before. They will recognize your story. They won't be shocked and you don't have to be ashamed. The patterns are all too common.

Web Resources

* No Nonsense Self-Defense is an excellent site with many informative articles. Among them:
** Profile of a Rapist
** Stalking/Domestic Violence

* Domestic Violence: In the Mind of the Abuser

* Warning Signs of an Abusive Personality

* Myths and Facts about Sexual Assault

“Myth: Women frequently "cry rape". Fact: The FBI reports that false accusations account for only 2% of all reported sexual assaults. This is no higher than false reports for any other crime.” Rape and domestic violence are the most under-reported of crimes.

* Patterns of Emotional Abuse

* Be Alert To Common Traits of Stalkers


* Why Does He DO That? - Inside the minds of angry and controlling men by Lundy Bancroft (This book identifies specific types of abusers and their M.O.s, though many abusers are of mixed types)

* The Anatomy of Motive
by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker (Understanding criminal psychology, the reasons predators abuse, the types of victims they target, and why)

* Trauma and Recovery
by Judith Hermann (Help recovering from PTSD, whether from combat in war or surviving domestic violence)

Phone and Internet Resources

* National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)

* RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673)

* Sacred Circle: National Resource Center to End Violence Against Native Women": 1-877-RED-ROAD (1-877-733-7623):
“Women Are Sacred! Violence Against Native Women Is Not Traditional!”

* Mending the Sacred Hoop, Technical Assistance Project

* Red Wind Consulting, Violence Against Native Women

* Domestic Violence and Native Americans

* Native Women's Society of the Great Plains: 1-605-455-2939 (not toll-free)

* South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: 1-800-572-9196

* White Buffalo Calf Woman Society

Permission to re-post granted by the author.

Justice and Honors for Lakota Women

Lakota Woman Wins Unprecedented Rape Case

From the Argus Leader:
A Native American woman from Wounded Knee won a historic ruling in federal court based on a century-old treaty between the U.S. government and the Oglala Sioux Tribe after she was sexually assaulted by a military recruiter.

The U.S. government must pay Lavetta Elk, formerly of Wounded Knee, almost $600,000 in damages after she was sexually assaulted by Army recruiter Staff Sgt. Joseph Kopf in his car January 2003, according to court documents. Judge Francis Allegra based the ruling on a "bad men" provision in the April 29, 1868, treaty between the government and the Oglala Sioux Tribe.

That provision of the Fort Laramie Treaty "provides that if 'bad men' among the whites commit 'any wrong' upon the person or property of any Sioux, the United States will reimburse the injured person for the loss sustained," court documents filed Tuesday indicated.

read the rest of the article...

Lakota Woman Wins National Award

From the Rapid City Journal
A member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and White Buffalo Calf Woman Society has won a national honor recognizing her work and dedication in addressing and preventing sexual violence.

Tillie Black Bear, executive director of White Buffalo Calf Woman Society, the oldest shelter on a Native American reservation, has been awarded The National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s 2009 Visionary Voice Award. Black Bear is considered a leading expert on violence against women and children.

She is a founding mother of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and a founder of the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She is the first woman of color to lead the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Black Bear has worked as a therapist, school counselor, administrator and a college instructor.

Thanks to Betsy Campisi at Zintkala Waste Win Oti for passing these along.

Tillie Black Bear speaks at Northern Michigan University, September, 2008:

Tribal domestic violence was once punished by death