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Danger signs | So slick he could slide uphill | That which is hateful
In attempting to warn women against the danger, many rape crisis centers proclaim "all men are potential rapists."
What a horrible way to live.
Who wants to go through life in fear of one half of the human race? Much less believe that about those we love and are intimate with.
The idea behind any learning should be to improve the quality of life, not degrade it. To this end, let’s leave the wild paranoia of ‘possible’ rape scenarios and move onto the more solid footing of ‘probable’ and 'very likely.' That you can do something about.
Someone rightly said, "Dishonest people are seldom dishonest in only one aspect of their lives." In the same vein, the predilections that can, and do, lead to rape and violence are not isolated. They tend to permeate a person's character and be regularly displayed in many small ways -- and in other areas. These attitudes, behaviors and words are consistent among rapists and those who attack others.
IF you are willing to look, they are easy to spot.
The reason it is impossible to predict who will and won't sexually assault someone is because how these behaviors manifest is a matter of style and preference(1). One person might choose to be blatant and habitually physically attack others, while another might be more subtle and rely on drugs and alcohol to render his victims helpless. The motives are the same, but the style is utterly different. And that is why it is hard to predict who will and won't commit sexual assault or physical violence. A person who will physically assault one person will not engage in violence with different person. The same goes for circumstances, he will attack in one set of circumstances, but not another.
What we can accurately predict is something bad will arise out of these character traits. However exact details of the 'When, Where and How' are impossible to predetermine.
If you see these behaviors in a person, take care. The more you see, the more care should be taken not to be alone him. Even if he doesn’t rape, these behaviors indicate serious character flaws.
1) Insensitivity for others/emphasis on self - Does this person put his wants above the needs, feelings or well being of others? Is getting his way more important to him than other people's welfare? Often this can go beyond mere selfishness and border nearly on an "assumed divine right." Often these people will justify a particularly vicious action with a flip comment like, "Hey, that's how the game is played." Such a person has no understanding that he must co-exist with others. Because he simply exists he thinks the world "owes" him whatever he wants. A common tactic of such a person it to make you feel bad for not doing what he wants.
2) Belittling behavior or attitudes towards others - Does this person habitually make nasty, belittling or degrading comments about others – especially under the guise of joking? Does this person think he is better than others? Does he look down on others? A nouveau riche aristocrat? Is he a racist? A person who thinks that race or social position makes him superior can also assume gender does too. When you think you are superior, an assumed right to ‘take’ what you want often follows.
3) Negating behavior or comments - Closely related to 1 and 2. Does he try to tell you what you are feeling or thinking? Or worse, tell you what you are not? Comments like "you don’t really mean that" are serious indicators of someone trying to negate you. A person who negates others is trying to take away the other person’s thoughts, feelings and needs and attempting to project his wants onto that person. The most obvious example of this is "Well even though she said ‘no’, she really meant ‘yes’".
4) Hostile and/or threatening language - What words does a person use? Choice of words convey subconscious assumptions about a particular topic. For example a man who generically refers to women as "bitches" does not have good assumptions about females (or much respect). It is all too easy to dismiss this behavior as just "blowing off steam." But if it is a constant behavior, it goes far beyond that. Someone who habitually uses violent or threatening language should be carefully watched for possible escalation. It’s on his mind already. It’s a uncomfortably short step from ‘thinking about’ to ‘doing’.
5) Bullying - This behavior is especially dangerous. Does this person use overt or subtle threats to get his way? A bully uses the threat of violence more than actual violence. Most often bullies are not willing to risk conflict with someone who can hurt them (an alpha male), and will instead chose to intimidate someone he considers weaker and safer. Someone who is bullying over other matters can easily turn to bullying you regarding sex.
6) Excessive anger - How easy does this person anger? Is he a "Short Fuse"? Does he boil over at the slightest problem? This is an indication of chronic anger. A person who explodes over a minor issue is like a full pot boiling over on the stove. It’s not that the issue is all that important, but that he has so much anger already, any more causes him to explode. Often people with chronic anger look for targets to vent their anger at. This could manifest as physical fights, abuse, or rape.
7) Brooding/ revenge - Does this person hang onto his anger long after the situation is over? Will he still be stewing over something while everyone else has moved onto other things? Will he become anti-social and glare at the source of his anger from across the room? Will he insist on taking revenge for real or imagined slights? Both indicate a petty and obsessive personality. A brooder fixates on something and then works himself into a frenzy over it. A person who seeks revenge "has to win" and is willing to take it to extremes. Refusing such a person’s sexual advances can turn this tendency towards you.
8) Obsession – This is a close cousin to number seven. It is a major factor with acquaintance rapes. This is the person who won’t leave you alone. He insists on ‘hitting on you’ long after you have told him no. He is always trying establish forced intimacy (see ‘bonding process’ below). Such obsessions easily turn into anger when his advances are rejected. One day he shows up in a fringe area, drunk and attacks.
9) Extreme mood swings - Beware someone who can go from wildly happy to deeply wounded at a moment's notice. This sort of personality can feel justified to commit an unlimited amount of violence and damage, because you "hurt his feelings." This is a common pattern among those with chronic anger about life.
10) Physical tantrums - How does this person get angry? Especially when denied "getting his way". Beware of a person who regularly physically assaults his environment i.e. hitting walls, kicking things etc. It is only a short step from striking a car to attacking you.
11) Jock or gorilla mentality - This mentality promotes both acceptance and encouragement for the use of violence. It is especially common among participants of contact sports. What is most insidious about this mentality is the "jock" receives, not only positive reinforcement, but out-and-out applause for being aggressive and violent. This can easily lead to a failure to differentiate between the playing field and real life. Mike Tyson’s comment is a prime example: "Nobody ever objected before."
12) A mean drunk - Nearly all rape and abuse cases involve alcohol. Watch what surfaces when someone is intoxicated. It shows what is always lurking underneath. Do not put yourself into a situation where you would deal with such a person while he is intoxicated. Most importantly, don't allow your facilities to be diminished by alcohol or drugs in this person's presence.
13) Alcohol or drug abuse - To begin with drug and alcohol addiction can in be traced back to selfishness and a refusal to change one’s world view. Alcohol and drugs are not the cause of bad behavior, rather they are used as an excuse! Often the attacker intentionally became intoxicated to ignore the social restrictions and inhibitions regarding violence.
While there are others, these behaviors are serious indicators of a potential rapist. This short list should acquaint you with the basics. Not all men are rapists, but a person like this has a higher probability than others. You not only find these traits among rapists and abusers, but also professional criminals. Philosophically there is little difference between such, they are all selfish. Most often it is just a matter of degrees, style and choice of victims.
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So slick he could slide up hill
One Saturday morning our college-aged daughter, who had come back for a visit, mentioned she was dating someone who had been convicted of sexual assault. Marc tried to mask his immediate reaction by taking a sip of coffee. What nearly caused a caffinated spraying of the room was her follow up comment "But it's okay, he explained to me what happened and it wasn't his fault."
Of course it wasn't his fault...and while we're at it, let's free everybody in prison because they are innocent - and they will tell you that too.
When we mentioned the possibility that he probably lied about, or at the very least spindoctored, his version of events she proudly told us that "she had checked it out" -- by asking his best friend. She then proceeded to tell us a long litany of behavior that was bordering on stalking. We told her to drop him faster than an annoyed scorpion.
What was most disturbing was her outrage at our reaction. Why were we getting so upset, she knew 'what she was doing' and 'she could take care of herself.' This kind of gullibility born of both willful ignorance and arrogance is what leads people into danger. And she had a double-dose of both.
Fortunately, she broke it off with him shortly after returning to school, so nothing bad ever occurred. She was able to "flitterygibbit" off to other things convinced that mom and dad were once again over-reacting and being paranoid. She is, unfortunately, our risk taker. She insists on regularly putting herself into situations like that.
We mention this story because there is an old saying: You can't cheat an honest man. If you don't have much experience with the underbelly of life, that comment doesn't seem to make sense. But it is very true. That is because most swindles rely on the mark's greed. It is the person who is avaricely trying to get a ludicrously low price or an unrealistic high return who is going to get hustled. Whereas an honest person knows this isn't right. You don't get those kind of prices and returns in legitimate business. If someone is offering them, then something is wrong. And yet because of greed, the mark proceeds with the deal.
In the same vein, a smooth talking individual can only convince you of something if you want to believe what he is saying. And the more you want to believe the less convincing he will have to do. But without this willingness to ignore common sense on your part, even the smoothest con-artist has no power and no chance to harm you.
The reason for this side trip into the nature of con artists is to acquaint you with the fact that many rapists will attempt to mask, justify, make light of, or explain away the dangerous behaviors that we have mentioned. How they will do this is totally unpredictable at this time -- as it depends on the individual and his opinion and assessment of you. Know right now however, that he will tailor his response to what he thinks will work best with you. So it is going to sound real convincing when it comes your way.
Having said that however, there are several common tactics. The first is to make light of it. To claim that he was just joking about a verbal attack. To "blow off" a significant event with a flip or short comment as though it didn't matter.
Another common dodge is to minimize others by focusing on him. He was justified in doing what he did because his emotions were hurt or because the other person did something to him first.
Bullying is often common. The subject is closed because it angers or upsets him.
Or they will have a long and elaborate story how it really wasn't their fault. These stories however, while tending to have great depths in some areas are prone to be as shallow as a puddle in a parking lot when it comes to their involvement. Not about what they did or what they were feeling - those are in depth areas - but rather why they chose a course of action that they knew was wrong. That will be quickly glazed over. Unfortunately this subject has massive influence on everything else they are telling you. But if they can baffle you with BS about other details, you won't notice that this issue is prominently lacking in their story.
It is not uncommon for them to try to turn it around onto you. Your reaction to their action is wrong : That is what they will try to convince you. You are being narrow-minded and mean spirited. Don't you know it was just a joke? How can you be so unforgiving to hold him accountable for something that wasn't his fault. Or a very common one, how can you be so unreasonable, look how reasonable about this he is trying to be.
No matter what tactic someone takes there is always a core fortification of "me" that is involved in his arguments. It is hard to describe, but once you have learned how to recognize it, it is always there. This fortification is never touched. It is always talked around or quickly skipped over. And that area that is never addressed is accepting personal responsibility for one's actions.
Another issue that is never mentioned is their responsibility to interact with others on an equal basis. It is always how other people are affecting them. Or how much they have done and how hard they have tried to make things work. There is no recognition that their words or actions might have affected someone just as, if not deeper than they themselves were effected.
If you can remove your emotional involvement from the equation, you will clearly see how people attempt to hide these behaviors . But before you can remove your emotional investment you must critically review your motives. What are you getting out of the situation? What do you expect to get out of the situation? What are you afraid of losing if you were to allow yourself to see this behavior and recognize its significance?
With out daughter, it was that this man was from a well to do family and spent money on her. He would take her out, buy her entertainment, dinner, drinks and gifts. Which for a 'broke' college student is very appealing. Because she was benefiting from the association, she chose to ignore the danger signals and accept a shallow and biased explanation of past events. It wasn't until his obsessive behavior became annoying to her that she decided that the profit wasn't worth the pain.
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That which is hateful
The great rabbinical scholar Hillel is supposed to have been woken up in the middle of the night by a skeptic. The skeptic demanded Hillel explain the whole of the Torah in ten words or less. He replied "What is hateful unto you, do not do unto others -- the rest is commentary" and then Hillel rolled over and went back to sleep.
Rapists tend to be very selfish people. While there is a chance of a rape occurring because an otherwise "nice guy" makes a bad and selfish decision, this is an exception rather than the rule. Usually people who rape others have long shown a consistent pattern of attitude and behavior. The sexual assault is another, albeit more extreme, manifestation of this kind of mindset.
This however brings up an interesting point. Bad behavior tends to be tolerated only by people who are expecting you to tolerate theirs.
If you are engaged in selfish behavior, you will eventually find yourself surrounded only by other selfish people. This shift is gradual and oft times not noticed by the individual. Once you start down this road, it becomes a matter of degrees - who is more selfish. And when that happens it is not a question of "if" bad things will happen but rather "when?"
If you see these warning signs we have talked about her, do not choose to ignore them. Do not minimize them. Do not assume that you can control the situation. That is an assumption of omnipotence. You cannot control other human being and the assumption you can is pure arrogance.
The best thing you can do is to get these kind of individuals out of your life. If you look around and recognize this behavior in ALL of your friends, then it is time to sit down and do a critical reassessment of your own behavior.
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These danger signals are real as are the tactics we have discussed. Care should be taken when dealing with someone who exhibits them. Do not put yourself in a situation where such a person could successfully use violence. Literally, do not go off alone with such a person – especially if alcohol or drugs are involved.
Incidentally, many of these behaviors are shared with those who turn into abusive husbands and boyfriends. These are the seeds of that kind of behavior, but it won’t be until you are involved that abuse will manifest. This is another reason to avoid becoming involved with a person who displays these early signs.
To a greater or lesser degree, you can see these danger signals in many people you know. Do not ignore, rationalize or excuse these behaviors, especially if you see a significant number of them. Don’t make the mistake, as great many young women do, that because such a person hasn’t attacked you, he won’t.
A shark is a shark whether he is peacefully swimming or attacking. Just because you haven't been attacked, doesn't mean he can't or won't. You either haven’t had anything he wants or you haven’t been in a situation with him where he could successfully act.
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1) Source of 'matter of style statement. Dr. Stanton Samenow Inside the Criminal Mind. You also might want to read his book The Myth of the Out of Character Crime. You'll find a more in-depth look at many of the elements listed here. Return to Text
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