Wade Mullen @wad3mullen Husband | Father of 3 | PhD | Director of MDiv at Capital Seminary & Graduate School | Tweet about impression management tactics used by abusive people/systems May. 17, 2018 2 min read

When facing exposure, abusers will deftly spin a web of deception around the truth until it suffocates and dies. They might do this by weaving threads between themselves and issues or people indirectly related to the central truths. Here are 8 hard to recognize threads:

1. An abuser will create a thread between himself and others people view favorably. He might draw attention to another person or group and then boast in his positive connection to them. He will bask in the reflected glory of someone else’s values when his are questioned.

2. He then spins a thread around more serious examples of abuses and boasts in how he is not like such people and has never engaged in such horrible behavior. You are then led to believe that he should not be connected to the less serious actions he’s accused of.

3. An abuser might thread together his life’s work and his contribution to that work. He spotlights his life in general because it is easier to defend. This tactic subtly diverts attention away from any specific words or actions he knows are more difficult explain.

4. If he can’t escape addressing the story, he will weave together an effective fiction. This new version is said to provide clarity when in fact it produces confusion. Nobody, even the abuser himself, seems to possess an accurate recollection of events, so everyone moves on.

5. An abuser will quickly identify who his supporters are and then use flattery, compliments, and expressions of appreciation to thread himself to his supporters. He will publicly enhance their positive attributes in order to bolster the credibility of their judgement.

6. An abuser will quickly identify who his critics are and then thread their criticism to fabricated or exaggerated negative attributes like hatred, bitterness, and revenge. Criticism is then viewed by others as malicious and misguided, perhaps even Satanic.

7. An abuser may go so far as to add his family members to this portion of the web. By connecting these evil critics to the perceived negative effects that criticism is having on his family, the abuser pours more condemnation on his critics & requests more help from supporters.

8. If necessary (and only if necessary) an abuser will spin an apology. This apology will not be threaded to the truth of his actions, but to unintended mistakes that resulted in unintended harm. The apology is a deception that seeks to escape responsibility and penalty.

Eventually an abuser will spin so many threads that his supporters won’t just defend him, they’ll applaud him. They fail to see they are trapped in the web themselves, having simply conformed to the pattern they were weaved into. They then provide constant food for the abuser.

Those who escape the web walk away bewildered, unsure of how to address an issue that once was as clear as day. To the abusers satisfaction, they soon forget that behind all those threads is an entrapped truth, a truth that could have freed others had it remained free itself.


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