A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation. – James Freeman Clarke
It is an apt time to discuss the tactics of abusers, including political abusers. With climate change and ocean acidification looming in our future with an ever narrowing time frame in which to react, it is urgent that we be able to identify abusers in the public arena and cease electing them to public office. Knowledge of the dynamics of abuse is a start:
Abusers wear their opponents down by being unfairly Relentless, Rigid and Repetitive. The goal of emotional abusers is to confuse people, even members of their own party or household. They intuitively know that all they have to do is to create doubt to immobilize resistance.
Abusers play head games. They engage in and promote all or nothing thinking. A particularly nefarious head game is entrapping others in Catch-22 situations, often utilizing cultural mores for destructive means.
Abusers insinuate that you have major character flaws or have violated ethical principles without giving specific examples or by giving examples that are relatively insignificant. Their communication tends to remain in the abstract, but the inference is that you are bad or have done something really bad. Abusers harp on a minor complaint as if it were a big deal. Abusers traffic in innuendo.
Abusers make it difficult or impossible for you to do something, and then complain when it doesn’t get done or raise the bar when you succeed against the odds. An abuser is never satisfied – that is not the goal. The goal is to keep you off balance and playing by their rules by continually discrediting you.
Abusers adamantly protest that something isn’t true if the truth doesn’t serve their goals. The truth rarely supports their goals. An abuser will swear up and down that they haven’t done something when they have.
Abusers Lie as a tool of manipulation and control. Lies can take several forms:
- Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
- Bluff and Bluster
- Obfuscate with word salad
- Double Speak: Use lofty sounding principles using code that has a different and specialized meaning relative to their own psychological make-up, or in the case of politicians, their own political group. In other words, what is spoken is not what is meant in normal parlance. It has a secondary meaning or purpose.
- Say one thing, do another. Politicians make use of the fact that Americans rarely follow any issue consistently.
- Lie Blatantly.
- Use the exception to prove the rule.
- Make arrogant comments.
- Debates facts, like Climate Change, as if they were opinions
- Rapid fire, sentences or short phrases (incomplete ideas).
Abusers are often Economically abusive. One glaring political example is the shaming of poor people after the Great Recession. Abusive politicians worked in concert with economic power brokers to set up an economic system like a row of dominoes, and then blamed the dominoes when they fell. Abusers blame the victim for the mess that the abusers themselves orchestrated. Economic abusers hide resources, lie about finances, steal, cheat, and mishandle resources.
Abusers violate their agreements and the basis for the relationship. ALEC, an alternative legislative process has been established by corporations, acting outside of the constitution. This is the political equivalent of leading a double life.
Abusers have no tolerance for mistakes by you, but claim laxity for themselves. For them the Double Standard is the Golden Rule. They don’t play fair and live by their own set of Rules.
Abusers equate the inequitable. You do It too! This common tactic ignores that fact that the abuser does it to a much greater extent. Since everyone makes mistakes, there is often a smidgeon of truth to what they say, but it is a truth stretched to the max.
Abusers refuse reasonable compromises and insist on unreasonable compromises. Then they complain that you won’t compromise. Abusers will accuse you of the thing that they are doing. If you hold them accountable for their bullying ways, they will complain that they are being bullied.
Note that failing in an earnest attempt at improving the common good is not abusive. Also note that occasional abuses do not an abuser make. Abusers engage in a pervasive pattern of multiple abuses.
Abusers have no intentions of fixing problems because problems serve their dysfunctional goals. Abusers obstruct if they don’t get their way. In families and the culture at large, abusers create conditions that promote physical, emotional, and environmental illness. It is time to learn to recognize bullies, rather than elect them.
©Noreen Wedman 2014
Noreen Wedman is a counselor in private practice in Seattle, WA. Ms. Wedman has been registered or licensed to practice counseling in Washington state for 24 years. She is author of a Toolkit for Healing from Verbally Abusive Relationships and author of the forthcoming Journal for Healing from Emotionally Abusive Relationships.