Why is it so easy for an abuser to get away with it and so difficult for an abuse victim to be heard?
The typical serial bully is a Dr Jekyll/Mr Hyde personality type (male or female) who has put considerable effort into establishing and maintaining a respectable and credible public persona. Bystanders may believe they know him well, that he is a genuinely righteous person, and that he couldn’t possibly be capable of the malicious behavior he is accused of. Unable (and probably unwilling) to imagine that they have been deceived, their logical conclusion is that the accuser is the antagonist, acting out inexplicable malevolence. With derogatory implications about his target’s mental state, lack of character, or foul motives, the abuser fuels this role reversal. Feigning moral indignation and playing the part of the victim, he encourages supporters to see the real victim, who is attempting to be heard, as the abusive one.
Dr. Vaknin explains: “Even the victim’s relatives, friends, and colleagues are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them to his favor. Others rarely have a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters. In contrast, the victims are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.”
“Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser and his harried casualties, it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey’s acts of self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, lability, or a mental health problem.”
Dr. Sam Vaknin, Narcissism by Proxy
Three cognitive strategies have been identified for when people deny, discount, or dismiss occurrences of abuse and for turning away from effective steps to stop it and hold abusers accountable:
Reflexively dismissing all evidence as questionable, incomplete, misleading, false, or in some other way inadequate.
Using euphemism, abstraction, and other linguistic transformations to hide the abuse.
Turning away: ‘I’m not involved,’ ‘There is nothing I can do about it,’ ‘I have no authority, jurisdiction, power, or influence,’ ‘This is no concern of mine,’ etc.
There are reasons for our failure to act when action is appropriate.
We don’t acknowledge, or even recognize, that evil exists. We’re told that “there’s good in everyone,” “deep down we’re all the same,” “everyone makes mistakes,” “everyone deserves a second chance,” or “we all just need to be loved.” We are not told that there are exceptions to these platitudes. As many as 12 percent of the population are sociopaths—social predators who live their lives exploiting others—and another chunk of the population are almost sociopaths. Typically, their aggression is covert and most of us don’t know anything about sociopaths until we are personally targeted.
Taking action against bad behavior usually requires confrontation. Confrontation is uncomfortable, at best, and at worst, dangerous. Most of us try to avoid confrontation. In fact, probably the only people who enjoy confrontation are sociopaths. They, of course, are the ones causing the problems.
There are other reasons why we don’t act. We may feel that the problem is too big, and we’re too small to change anything. We may believe that someone else ought to take action. We may fear—legitimately—repercussions or retaliation. We may believe that the problem will “go away” or not impact us if we ignore it and focus on the positive.
What is “The Bystander Effect”?
The “Do’s” and “Don’ts” of Conflict Resolution
Lazy Brain and the Narcissistic Sociopath (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
Being with a Narcissistic Sociopath – Part 1 (beingabeautifulmess.wordpress.com)
Confrontation or Communication
Social aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by attempting to socially isolate the victim. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim in different ways. Other forms of indirect bullying are more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as name calling, the silent treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation, gossip/false gossip, lies, rumors/false rumors, laughing at the victim, saying certain words that trigger a reaction, and mocking.
The effects of bullying can be serious and even fatal.
Despite the large number of individuals that do not agree with bullying practices, there are very few that will intervene on behalf of the victim. These individuals are labeled bystanders and unfortunately usually tend to lean toward the bully’s side.
In most bullying incidents, bystanders do nothing. If the bully faces no obstruction from the people around, he has permission to continue behaving badly.
Bystanders to bullying activities are often unable to recognize the true cost that their silence has to both the individual and to the group. A certain inability to fully empathize is also usually present in the typical bystander, but to a lesser degree than in the bully.
It is the general unwillingness of bystanders to undertake any type of risks that bullies often rely upon in order to maintain their power.
The bystander effect refers to when the presence of others hinders an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. Social psychologists Bibb Latané and John Darley popularized the concept following the infamous 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in Kew Gardens, New York. Genovese was stabbed to death outside her apartment while bystanders observing the crime did nothing to assist or call the police.
The bystander effect is attributed to the diffusion of responsibility (onlookers are more likely to intervene if there are few or no other witnesses) and social influence (individuals in a group monitor the behavior of those around them to determine how to act). In Genovese’s case, each onlooker concluded from their neighbors’ inaction that their own help was not needed.
The Mind of the Bystander
Why Don’t We Help?
The more eyewitnesses present, the less likely people will help a victim.
Why Crowds Make Us Callous
How we become different people in the presence of others.
Why Workplace Bullies Thrive
What can be done to stop workplace bullying?
How to Speak Up
Your Chance Not to Be a Bystander
The actions of bystanders can stop mass violence.
The Mind of a Hero
What goes on in the mind of a hero who is rushing in to save a crash victim?
4 Steps For Stopping Workplace Bullies
What can leaders do to stop bullies? A lot!
Our Power as Active Bystanders
Acting to prevent suffering and create a better world.
“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it.”
Martin Luther King Jr
In most bullying situations, the target finds himself isolated and alone. Work colleagues, who may have been friendly and supportive previously, melt away. The people he thought were “friends” turn out to be mere fair-weather friends and he is left feeling like a pariah and an outcast.
There are many reasons why people fail to come to the aid of someone who is being bullied. These include: Read more…
Someone who is being subject to narcissistic abuse may rarely leave the house, never go out with friends, or speak to strangers because he doesn’t know who’s been turned against him; he doesn’t know who he can trust. The experience is painful and can lead to mental and physical problems, including depression and anxiety. In some cases, feelings of despair lead to suicide.
When friends and family remain neutral about abuse and say that both people are responsible in a conflict, or that both need to change, they are actually colluding with the abuser and making it harder for the victim to seek support.
What a dumb idea; that in every conflict both parties are always at fault. Another idiocy is the belief that it is morally wrong to ‘choose sides,’ even in abuser/victim situations. How can it be morally correct to watch someone being abused and do nothing? Abusers will use our misconceptions to their advantage.
- Taking Responsibility (cpsmenacetosociety.wordpress.com)