The gratuitous “I didn’t . . . ” — a verbal tactic of the abuser
In a case that happened several months ago in my home state of Victoria, Australia, a father of four was accused of three counts of rape and one of murder of a woman whom he did not previously know.
While shedding crocodile tears during the police interview, he used a red-flag phrase. He gratuitously stated “I didn’t ….” mark those words.
Here’s an extract of the newspaper report of the police interview which was presented as evidence in court.
After his arrest over the rape and murder of Jill Meagher, Adrian Bayley told police he hoped Victoria would bring back the death penalty.
In a record of interview tendered to the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday, Mr Bayley told police he never meant to hurt Ms Meagher.
“I have no life left … they should have the death penalty for people like me anyway.” . . .
Mr Bayley started to cry when he told police: ”I strangled her.”
”What have I done? What have I done, man?”
Mr Bayley later told police he was crying when he buried Ms Meagher.
”And I didn’t cry for me, you need to understand that. I didn’t cry for me, just like I’m not crying for me now.
”I’m crying for everyone that this has affected, not me.
“There’s no explanation and … there’s no excuses for this. Alright? For her family this week it must have been hell, you know what I mean?”
There was no reason for Bailey to assert, “I didn’t cry for me. . .” other than for the goal of manipulating the impression of the person who was questioning him. The detective hadn’t asked Bayley the reason for his tears, but Bayley was at pains to explain to (instruct) the detective that wasn’t crying for himself — “you need to understand that.” This language is typical for abusers and criminals when they are trying to shape the impressions and thoughts of others.
And if Bayley had cared about the woman’s family, he would have handed himself in soon after the crime. As it was, the family had five days of living on a knife-edge before the alleged killer was arrested and the woman’s body exhumed from its shallow grave.
You can read another example of this kind of language at George Simon Jr’s post I am not a monster — impression management Ariel Castro style.