No matter what label we put on the abuse, whether it be sexual harassment, bullying, domestic violence, domestic abuse, slavery, discrimination, extortion, or fraud, it comes down to the same dynamics and motivating factors.
The motivating factors are essentially
- need for power (control);
- feelings of inadequacy,
- jealously (neediness); or
- just perverse focus on self gratification (narcissism).
Some of the tools of trade are creating a false nest so that the target will believe they have a trusted friend or ally. It helps to have charisma in some way, whether good looks, talents or skills that the target is lacking, and a dulcet voice. Those attributes are woven into flattery geared toward inducing trust. And they will trade on the relationship between them and their target in order to further create a bond built on a sense of security. When something goes wrong, the target believes there's a valid reason for self doubt when things happen not ordinarily part of a trusting relationship. And there is the logic that is spread over every transaction (usually circuitous in nature) that gives a warped reason for why the abuser is entitled to their actions while the target has done something that is incomplete, inadequate, or not proper.
If the target resists the initial efforts at logic or self doubt, the abuser will resort to threats of punishment in some manner. This can run the gamut from removal of privileges, destruction or barring access to something that has meaning to the target (no matter how minimal or simple), bombastic behavior (such as shouting or slamming things) that induces fear of violence. If the resistance to these efforts continues, the abuser will move into the next phase, destruction of the target's associations and reputation.
The abuser is patient. In fact, they will use their "courtship" period to build a bond of trust. Whatever amount of time it takes to build the illusion of trust and confidence is necessary to begin the next phase can be dedicated to that mission. Rushed courtship is failed courtship. The prey will escape. During that courtship, and even before they hone in on their target, they are evaluating the practices and personality characteristics of their target to develop just the right attraction and staying power.
Just Like Family
In a familial relationship, we are constantly told that family is where one derives the greatest amount of safety and security; trust of family members should be extremely high. Why we have dynamics of child abuse and incest are not explained; the illness is buried under other matters in order to distract from the harm that befalls the victim. And besides that, there's the old adage of not airing one's dirty laundry - the family secrets. So we turn a blind eye to the familial betrayals and disappointments. To the rest of the world, there is consummate loyalty - defend the family member to the death.
But after the front door is closed, all manner of horrors occur. They can be physical, mental, psychological, financial. Here are the first areas of attack for disrupting meaningful efforts to obtain employment and self sufficiency. Attempts to earn an education and good grades are sent into destructive areas. Homework assignments disappear only to resurface days after the due date. The grade for the assignment is either lowered or given an incomplete. After a time, the classwork is so far behind that it no longer makes sense to continue the course.
The target is forced to do things in a certain order, to maintain organization to extreme heights of integrity - to the point of obsession.
Having friends come to visit is next to taboo. In fact, the abuser will not allow friends to visit. If the target seems to gain too much popularity, it is possible they will get out of control, start thinking for their own self, and defy the abuser. That means outside relationships must be discouraged at any cost. But the best way to succeed in discouraging relationships is to defame the target in some way - dissuade others from associating with the target because they have done something that is too offensive. The taint too horrible. This is also known as the period of isolation.
Then There's at Work
There are work relationships where we are told that the manager has their team's best interests at heart. As a leader, that is the manager's responsibility.
Managers aren't above being abusers. They've simply transferred their abusive style from the home to the workplace. Somehow, they charmed the recruiter and the interviewers into not seeing the first glimpses of an abusive personality. And they have succeeded in sidestepping the dangerous state of being reported as an abuser. With no criminal or abusive record on the background screening documentation, they're in a prime position to get hired. Once in a managerial position, they nearly walk on water as far as who's word has more weight in evaluating a situation where a worker has complained.
The same principles apply to volunteer organizations, government, churches, schools. The sickness, like the flu, simply gets transferred from one place to another without regard to location nor anything else. Abuse by any name is still abuse and it's universal as to its application and manifestation.