Nefarious and depraved are synonyms. Both words are used to describe wicked, evil, and corrupt people or behavior. Depraved is used more to describe a person’s character, while nefarious is used more to describe the evil or corrupt act: “He is a depraved man who is known for his nefarious business practices.”
Master manipulators use grooming to get what they want out of someone, whether it’s sex, morally questionable behavior, money, or something else. (Does Dirty John ring a bell?)
Whether the target is an adult or child, the stages of grooming by the predator toward their target are typically the same:
Friendship-forming: The predator will work to determine a target’s candidacy by asking questions about the target’s life and gauging their vulnerability, and also getting contact information such as social media handles or phone numbers.
Relationship-forming: The predator works to gain the target’s trust, often through secret-sharing or by fulfilling a need. For instance, they may run errands for the victim or pay for bills. The predator may also share a secret that “only the target can know”, then ask for a similar secret to level the playing field.
Threat-gauging: The predator will engage in a risk assessment to determine how accessible the victim truly is. This is more common among predators who are grooming children but can also happen with adults who will check a target’s relationship strength with friends, family, and roommates.
Isolation: The predator will begin distancing the target from friends or family. This can be done in multiple ways, including surprisingly positive methods such as compliments and favors. The predator may tell the intended victim that they feel an especially strong connection to them, or that they understand each other in a special way that no one else can get. Control is the predator’s intent. By appearing calm and concerning, the predator is seeking to increase their influence over the victim to advance their agenda.
Abuse: In this phase, the predator will start to use the target to meet their needs. With children, this is generally sexual in nature, but predators will use victims for money, to accomplish morally questionable things for them, or even just to fill an emotional need.
Maintenance: Once the victim is doing what the predator wants, the predator will work to keep them under control through various means. These methods can include gas-lighting (telling the victim their feelings are crazy or unreasonable), destroying the victim’s self-esteem, or continuing the isolate the victim from their loved ones.
Grooming is a common tool for con-men, pedophiles, and those with a narcissistic personality disorder. The results to a victim can be catastrophic, in terms of loss of self-esteem and personal safety, psychological trauma, and harm to the victim’s financial resources and personal wealth.
Like other social predators, Anthony charms his way through personal and professional settings, using flattery and positive attention to win over those who will help him get ahead. These predators do not violate the law; they violate loyalty. They exploit their victims financially, reputationally, emotionally, and sometimes sexually, carefully covering their tracks to avoid any “official” wrongdoing. They seduce and discard a broad spectrum of trusting individuals.
Thanks to the #MeToo movement, the curtain has been pulled back on inappropriate and predatory behavior in all walks of life; there is greater awareness of these realities than ever before.
Now is the time to uncover those who engage in what is known in legal parlance as “uncharged bad acts” or “uncharged misconduct.” It can be hard to articulate just what infractions such people commit, given that there is no legal violation on the books. The ability to go undetected and unlabeled is perhaps the most dangerous aspect of predatory behavior.
Although they hide it behind charming and deceptive facades, Emotional Predators always ruthlessly use others to get what they want. At their core what they want is power – to feel dominant, winning and in control – and they use a variety of tactics to gratify their drive for power. To protect yourself and your loved ones, you should instantly recognize the most common Emotional Predator traits: they claim to be the victim, usually of the person they’re in fact victimizing; they fake sincerity and make emotional displays to influence, intimidate, charm, disarm or seduce others; they pretend to be innocent and ignorant; they trap others in no-win binds where the other person is damned if they do and damned if they don’t; they provoke others to act out of character (through passive aggression and projective identification); they isolate and “gaslight” their targets, eliciting in the targets unmerited guilt and doubt about their own sanity; they create havoc, confusion and chaos, and disrupt other people’s natural rhythms; theyignore rules when that suits them, but expect others to follow rules when that suits them; they will say and do anything to get what they want, reversing themselves later if they think that serves them (they are consummate hypocrites); and they relentlessly manage their public image, often by omitting relevant facts (lying by omission).
Real change, meaningful, lasting change, ultimately requires a change of heart. And the inherently pompous heart of some narcissists simply abhors the notion of subordination to anyone or anything “bigger” than themselves. In fact, some narcissists are so grandiose that they can’t even conceive of anything bigger than them. This is a major impediment to any positive change and growth.
There is a most troubling character type among all the various personalities. I first described the type in In Sheep’s Clothing. (Mira, tambien: Lobos con Piel de Cordero.) It’s the nefarious character who knows how to look good without being good. Some of these folks are just like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. They’re always out for something, harboring strictly self-serving agendas. And what they’re angling for is generally at your expense. So, they can be downright abusive and exploitative. Still, they also know how to appear benign while doing such things. And this masquerade creates a conflict between what what your gut instinct tells you and your brain judges. This conflict is, in a nutshell, the crazy-making phenomenon I first described years ago and that many now commonly call the gaslighting effect.
Modern permissiveness and the new culture of entitlement allows disturbed people to reach adulthood without proper socialization. In a book meant both for the general public and for professionals, bestselling author and psychologist George Simon explains in plain English:
•How most disturbed characters think. •The habitual behaviors the disturbed use to avoid responsibility and to manipulate, deceive, and exploit others. •Why victims in relationships with disturbed characters do not get help they need from traditional therapies. •A straightforward guide to recognizing and understanding all relevant personality types, especially those most likely to undermine relationships. •A new framework for making sense of the crazy world many find themselves in when there’s a disturbed character in their lives. •Concrete principles that promote responsibility and positive change when engaging disturbed characters. •Tactics (for both lay persons and therapists) to lessen the chances for victimization and empower those who would otherwise be victims in their relationships with many types of disturbed characters.
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