A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

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.”

26 Comments

  1. Barnabasintraining

    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.”

    Yes indeed. I can think of several times I wish I had said no. I knew by that little check you get that that’s what I should have done but I talked myself out of it and have regretted those decisions ever since.

    • I’ve recently taken it a step further than just saying “no” to demands from people. There is a particularly mean guy that I work with, and I always felt that I HAD TO smile and acknowledge him every morning or every time we pass each other. (it’s the South, everybody acknowledges and says hi to everyone)
      He always gives me a sarcastic smirk, and says something cutting.
      Finally I decided that I don’t even have to acknowledge this man’s existence. I stopped looking at him when I walked by, stopped saying hello, stopped smiling – everything. It is amazing how drawing that kind of boundary erases so much strife. 🙂

      • Jeff Crippen

        But Katy, isn’t that so un-Christian? I mean, that poor guy is probably a lost soul whom you are bound to save. Surely you are being unkind, unmerciful, impatient….???? You KNOW I am being sarcastic!! Good job in dealing with this guy.

  2. I’ve witnessed my ex “testing” people to see if he could make them into his allies. He also did some intial “Testing” of a group of women before he selected his new wife (target).
    Some examples:
    -sending them messages online to see if they reacted warmly to him, or if they were stand-offish. I had one friend tell me that it was so creepy because she had no relationship with him, so for him to start messaging her out of the blue and say things like “woe is me, Katy and I are divorcing” – made her suspicious. 🙂
    -offering different excuses to different people, testing to see what explanations worked best in his favor.
    -this one is the most obvious and shocking. It shows how Abusers have no self-awareness. When my ex was getting remarried he and his fiance put up a big “wedding website” with a page devoted to the “story of how they met”. The story was a lie, because they knew each other for a couple of year before this, but he wrote this:
    “I saw her with a group of her friends in the karaoke bar, and at first I was interested in her friend. But then after talking to them I decided that {fiance} was the only one for me. The rest is history”
    He went around the table, tested each one, and picked his new target. And he has no idea that his romantic story is a dead giveaway, and that it’s not very romantic at all.

    • Friend of the Oppressed

      BULL’S EYE! When Whats-his-face told the story of how we met he always began with, “I wanted a godly wife” and always ended with, “I tricked her into marrying me.” While I was still in the fog, for many years I thought he was joking with the last comment. But now with clarity, I have come to believe he wanted a “godly” wife (groomed by the ‘c’hurch to accept abuse and adultery through ‘forgiveness’) whom he could “trick.” He has always had a strong dislike for women that don’t accept being told what to do and what to think.

    • Brenda R

      Didn’t the new bride see this website? You’d think she would be asking why the lie.

      • I understood from what Katy wrote above, that the new bride was in on the lie and happy to spread it on cyberspace.

      • Brenda R

        You’re right Barbara, I just reread that statement. That is even sicker yet. They deserve each other.

  3. I always use to say my ex stalked me until I married him. I used to think it was funny-not so much anymore.

    • Brenda R

      My almost ex kept asking me to marry him and I kept saying no. He finally wore me down and I said yes. That was a HUGE mistake.

    • anonymous

      I fell for the “I won’t quit calling till you give in and go out with me just once so what do you say? One date can’t hurt can it?”

  4. TruthBeTold

    “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.”

    This is absolutely true. When you tell someone “no”, or “no thanks, I don’t like apple pie; “no thanks, I don’t need or want your counsel anymore”, or “no thanks, I can decide that “, or “no thanks, I’m just praying and seeking God for His answer to me” and they freak out and you start to see red dots on your entire life, coming from their direction, you know you have found out who the real abusers are and just how unsafe they can be. Destroyers. Want to find the devil in the crowd? Find the one who wants to prevent the truth from being told; the one who wants to keep abuse victims from saying that they are victims; the one who wants to keep people from finding true deliverance and healing; the one whose life is filled to the brim with double standards; the ones who think they are above the law; the one who gathers allies to attack another; the one who makes themselves God in your life –

    So glad our precious Savior has taught you Ps. Crippen, how to draw those healthy and godly boundaries and truths and now to share that info with us.

  5. Otter

    I’m so glad a pastor is saying this! My ex-fiance was so incredibly charming and out-going, and since I’m reserved/shy, I’m sure he came across as the sweet and friendly person. In hindsight, I see how he was trying to manipulate/control me by calling my pastor on the phone and asking him tons of questions about my faith. Thankfully, my pastor is pretty savvy because of the Holy Spirit and sticking to Biblical truth, so although he brought up some of the discussion, it gave him nothing to use against me. 🙂

  6. Just Me

    I felt like my husband targeted me when we were dating. I was trying to get away and I just couldn’t. If I hung up on him because he was yelling at me, he would call and call and call and call until I would answer. So then I started calling a friend so he would get a busy signal. He then had the operator break into my phone call to talk to him! I sneaked away from him once while he was in the bathroom and drove home where I lived with my parents. Unfortunately, my parents weren’t home. He broke down the door because it wasn’t properly locked (he still had to bang and shove really hard to do it.) He would pressure me for sex (I was a virgin) and he would yell at me and call me names when I said no. Finally, I didn’t say no because in the moment, it was easier than getting yelled at. Afterward, I sat in the bathroom in shock and thought, “Well, now he has me.” Since I was damaged goods, I thought that no good man would ever want me, so I stopped trying to break up with him.

    • Brenda R

      Just Me, That is terrible. As far as I’m concerned what he did was rape. No good man would ever pressure a woman that way. Any good man would understand what you had been through and not thought twice about it. HUGS coming your way.

      • Just Me

        Brenda, too bad I didn’t see it that way at the time. Last year, I read a definition for the term “sexual coercion.” I had never heard of that before.

        A few years ago, I made a passing comment to him about how he pressured me when we were dating. He denied it. I’m not sure if he really doesn’t remember or if he’s full of crap. Either is possible.

      • Brenda R

        Just me, It didn’t affect him as it did you. Why would he remember? My husband took what he wanted on several occasions. To him he was owed it even though: I buried my grandson that day, I had sprained my ankle at Niagara Falls and they put me in a cast, I was burned from a day at the ball park. It hurt me, didn’t seem to affect him at all. He got done, rolled over, had a cigarette, went to sleep. He never saw anything wrong with these things.
        Guys used to use the line that if they didn’t get any their parts would turn blue. Many a young girl has lost her virginity to idiots like that.

      • Just Me

        Guys used to use the line that if they didn’t get any their parts would turn blue. Many a young girl has lost her virginity to idiots like that.

        Brenda, that’s eerily similar to the things he would say.

    • oh. sob. (weeping for you, JM)

      • Just Me

        Thank you, Barbara.

  7. Raped By Evil

    This entire post is wonderful and this part: “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.”

    Thank you again Jeff for so much wisdom and a place to put it.

    Matthew 5:37:”Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ Anything more comes from the evil one.”

    I have found that those who try to FORCE us to change our “yes’s” and “no’s” after we’ve said them, are ALSO from the evil one. As a result, depending on the situation, I may simply not respond at all to a person trying to sway me, because if I speak even one single word to them, they think they have the right to push me and coerce me.

    It’s a different world for me now that I’m awake to the truth, and it’s truly amazing! In the past I couldn’t even FATHOM not responding to people who spoke to me or if someone even looked at me in a way that told me to respond to them…..I’d been extremely conditioned to cater to EVERYONE. And as I’ve written before on this website, now I watch people from afar and I see that MANY people do this….don’t respond, don’t acknowledge when someone is trying to get their attention…..and what is the result? Usually the abuser who’d been trolling for a victim slinks off or tries another one but the person who refused to take the bait is able to continue on in their studies, drinking their soda, enjoying the sunshine etc.

    It is so incredible that I can actually sit and give absolutely no response for quite a long time while someone is trying to manipulate me….just sitting there thinking of a bible verse or thinking of something I’d earmarked in my mind to think about if this situation came up….and I also carry and use earplugs or headphones. Sometimes a nice big loud yawn works or putting my head on the desk….let’s see….. pretending I have a phone call, pretending I’m hard of hearing, acting like someone I pretend to know is trying to get my attention…the list is truly endless but I never want to look appealing or interesting to an abuser and these skills are a must have for a person like me who in the past was a people pleaser to the point of allowing others to destroy me. Not anymore. When I say yes or I say no, and someone tries to force me to concede, I close my mouth and don’t react. Big yawn!

    • Anony

      Matthew 5:37 — I had thought that verse was about swearing on one’s soul, very simply just stating a yes or no. But it makes so much more sense to look at the verse as it referencing those who won’t allow for a person to freely say yes or no, but rather demand a select response (especially being that it is not what the person would otherwise say on their own)….

    • Lea

      now I watch people from afar and I see that MANY people do this….don’t respond, don’t acknowledge when someone is trying to get their attention…..and what is the result? Usually the abuser who’d been trolling for a victim slinks off or tries another one but the person who refused to take the bait is able to continue on in their studies, drinking their soda, enjoying the sunshine etc.

      I enjoyed reading your comment! I do this all the time with people who are either threatening or trying to sell me something. Or sometimes people who just want something, like money. If I get caught up in a conversation with someone in a parking lot who starts telling me their story, whether it is true or false, I will probably end up giving them money.

      I’ve actually thought before about this method of ignoring scary people on the street and if that came from somewhere, or if it natural, and if it is truly effective. I know when I was 13 and in a different country a bunch of men were sort of catcalling and my older friend said to just ignore them. And that generally works? But I don’t know if there is a better way or not.

      • Raped By Evil

        Thank you Barb for the link as I hadn’t seen that one yet.

        Lea, the “gray rock method” is basically what I would call the methods that I use to deal with unsafe people, but keep in mind that whatever way keeps you safe is good, and the gray rock method can be tweaked to fit any given situation. Here’s a link on this website about it, and you can follow the link suggested there to see to original post. The Gray Rock Method (or, the Grey Rock Method)*

        I had NEVER been allowed or been given permission by ANYONE in my life that it was okay to say “no” to people. I’d truly been conditioned to be an emotional rape victim as well as to allow my husband to physically rape me at will. I had no boundaries, no opinions that weren’t dumped on my by others and no idea how miserable I was until God said, “NO MORE!” and opened my eyes. So when I write what I did in my post, it is with absolute awe that God has helped me and been with me as I practiced these skills that were initially so foreign to me.

        God wants us to be safe and strong. God allows and encourages us to say “NO!” to abusers and their manipulations. “NO!” is the predominant message of the Old Testament prophets as well as of the New Testament disciples. No to lies, No to sin. No to looking good on the outside. No to thinking that saying the “right” words will get you into heaven etc., yet SO MANY of us Christians are trained to only say “Yes.” How dangerous and how foolish this is but the evil one wants us to be useless to God and to “willingly” be open for rape. The rape of our soul, the rape of our minds, the rape of our bodies (like just because we’re married we no longer have the right to say no), the rape of our hearts and ultimately the raping away of our lives. But this was never GOD’S plan for our life, thus we keep these things (mind, body, soul, heart etc.) safe by learning ways of keeping the evil one out.

  8. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing….fighting gray rock….)

    Raped By Evil commented I had NEVER been allowed or been given permission by ANYONE in my life that it was okay to say “no” to people.

    I grew up with this……”no” was not an option. And bad things would happen if I didn’t say “yes”.

    Having an emotional boundary violated in infancy left me vulnerable to certain types of behaviour. I could not see the danger approaching.

    My nervous system was always hyper-vigilant, increasing the tendency to skew my perceptions. I would “misread” their intent, not knowing what to expect.

    Saying “no” brought punishment, not consequences. Saying “no” meant all kindness was withheld. I would “gray rock”…

    I learned not to imagine. I learned showing a life of my own meant punishment. I learned saying “no” meant I was wrong.

    Later in life, I learned to stand my ground when I said “no”…and watched people overreact in response.

    I no longer need “gray rock”….my imagination has been slower to rebound.

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