How Abusers Select a Target – Laser Dot On
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
Cross-hairs. Laser sights. Bulls-eyes. FIRE!
Abusers have targets. They select them. They keep them in their sights. Abuse victims can probably identify with the image of living every day, moment by moment, with a laser dot on their forehead, heart, or back. A constant reminder that a shot could be fired any second. For any reader who hasn’t actually been an abuser’s target, perhaps this imagery will help you understand the nature of this evil better, and the effects it has upon a victim-target. Think about it. What kind of effects might you experience if there were a red laser targeting dot on you every single day?
I don’t know specifically what the psychology is of abuser target selection. I just know that they do it. Scanning, scanning, target acquired! Locked on! Once they press the fire button and the missile is launched, life for the target becomes something akin to a pilot with a heat-seeking missile chasing after him. Evasive action constantly required! Hyper-vigilance.
Perhaps the abuser’s target selection is something like this:
1. Mentality of entitlement to have power and control over
2. Sighting of someone who, the abuser muses, thinks they have power and control over their life, or, sighting someone (i.e., Jesus in the Pharisees’ sights) who is perceived as a threat to the abuser’s power and control. “You may be the pastor, but I am in charge around here.” (Once I had such a person tell me, with his arm around my shoulder, “Jeff, the old pastor used to come out to my farm every Monday and we would talk things over and decide things.” I told him that wasn’t going to happen. That was 20 years ago. He still hates me to this day. Small town. Glares).
3. Abuser resolves to conquer – target selected
In my experience, abusers have shown up in the churches that I have pastored. Many of them have selected me as their target. Why? Because in their warped perception of what a pastor’s role is (and believe me, to them it is anything but being a servant), they see someone who preaches, who teaches, who leads. They see a person who…has power and control. They must have it. They must conquer. They must control the pastor and thus the flock. Laser dot on target. In your experience perhaps you were targeted because some sociopath decided “there is a beautiful woman who thinks she is free. I will conquer and control her.”
Many of these people — perhaps even most of them — approach us with an unusual charm. I have learned to beware. I am sure that the elders I work with have often wondered “when is Jeff going to learn?” They have been wiser than me in this regard. I hope I have learned, but I still have to watch my tendency to be too trusting of charmers. Largely now however, they make me suspicious. When a new person begins to ask for special attention, I wonder “is this just another abuser/user who wants to ‘get next to the pastor’ in order to control?” Be very, very careful about giving such a person too much information about yourself. It just makes you an easier target. (Someone told me once that a new pastor should beware of the person who picks him up at the airport).
How can we set up defenses against targeters? One of the most effective means is for us to learn a firm sense of drawing boundaries, and then do it. We need to learn to say “no” to people early on. This one little word can do more to prevent future trouble than almost anything else — “No.” We would be wise to test all of our relationships with it. Anyone who literally “cannot take no for an answer” is an unsafe person.
It certainly is not our fault when we are targeted. But by using some wisdom, by growing wise to the tactics of evil, we can go a long way in protecting ourselves from that laser dot. When we become a difficult target, abusers may very well just decide to move on and find someone who is more of a “sitting duck.”