1.How criminals manipulate you
When preparing people to defend themselves, the physical part of the training is one part of it. There are other aspects to the training that aren’t physical but are just as important. One of those aspects is understanding and having a strategy for dealing with manipulative behavior. Criminals are adept at using manipulative behavior to influence decisions that will allow them to exert control over you. The strategies are attempts to appeal to your sympathy, ethics and sense of fear to gain greater control over you.
2. Appeal to sympathy
Criminals appeal to your sympathy to influence to do something that will benefit them and put you in danger. For example, they might bring a small child with them and ask you to open your front door “help”. Or they could say their car has broken down and they need help up the road. These ploys range from being simple to very complicated. However, the tactic is the same which is to make you feel bad for their misfortune, receive help and then abuse you.
3. Appeal to ethics
Criminals also appeal to your ethics in order to manipulate you. They impose situations on you where you feel a good person would do the “right thing” and offer assistance. Conversely, perhaps the stronger driving force is it’s wrong NOT to help and you’re a BAD person if you don’t. None of us want to be bad people so therefore we concede even if we feel unsure about the situation. For example, someone might run to you and say “hey my daughter is sick I forgot my cellphone and I need your help! Come with me!”. Or “open your door quick! Someone is chasing me and I need to get the hell outta here!”. The criminal is appealing to your ethics in the hope you’ll make the “right” decision a “good” person would make. Then they can take advantage of you.
4. Appeal to fear
This strategy attempts to place you in an emotionally scared state to force you to make the decision they want. The criminal will use anti-social intimidation, threats and inappropriate gestures/behaviors etc. Also, criminals can be great “actors” making their behavior more grandiose to further frighten you. They’ll make threats vivid to paint a graphic picture in your mind of how they’ll abuse you. For example, they might say “if you don’t get in this car right now I’m going to blow your f****** brains all over this sidewalk”. Threats such as these “shock” the receiver and begin the fight or flight response which can lead to panic.
By stating, “let me in this car or else” we mentally hone in on the or else. Being so afraid of the “or else” consequence we are more likely to decide to do what they tell us. When a rapist tells a women, “I don’t want to go back to jail, don’t make me do something I don’t want to, just shut up and there won’t be problems”. The victim hones in on “don’t make me do something I don’t want to”. The fear of the unknown of what this person will do is overwhelming and debilitating.
5. Criminals victimize you but also hold the key to when your suffering will stop
Furthermore, this leads to another problem which is the criminal victimizes you but also controls when the abuse stops. So long as you comply, the abuse will stop but if you don’t it will continue indefinitely or more harshly. This can result in misdiagnosing how to respond in a violent confrontation. On the one hand compliance might be a safe choice leading to minimal injury such as simple property loss. Or it can be disastrous depending on the attackers real intentions. I recall, when I was robbed at gunpoint I experienced this during the confrontation. Admittedly, I felt a sense of relief when he said give me your money and I’ll get out of here. It offered the one thing humans need in times of stress which is hope.
The problem is many violent criminals and manipulative abusers have personality disorders that make their word worth nothing. They’ll lie making convincing promises and break their word anyway. Therefore, don’t fall into the trap of thinking if you comply everything will be okay. It can be tempting, but don’t comply with demands beyond a point or it could have horrific consequences.
6. Understand your safety comes first, context and remind yourself you have options
[Disclaimer: Now understand I’m not arguing every person that attempts to use sympathy to get something from you has criminal intentions. On the contrary, all of us at times invoke sympathy from others in order to receive help. It’s important to note it’s still a strategy and when it’s used by strangers or people who make you uncomfortable be wary..]
It’s important to remind yourself that your safety and that of your family comes first before anything else. Your first priority is to make decisions that will benefit you not strangers. To the extent you feel unsafe, unsure of someone’s motives you have the right to deny interacting with them always. I’ll repeat this again because it’s so important, as social politeness is instilled in us and can have horrible consequences. You have the right to deny interacting with anyone you want to. Now if you feel safe and or comfortable with the persons intentions you decide how much you interact.
If you get a bad feeling, something doesn’t feel right or didn’t have enough time to assess the situation, don’t engage. Take this action regardless of the “situation” they say they’ve found themselves in. Now should you want to help them, do so by taking the initiative. If someone is saying they’re injured and need you to open the door, call the police for them. If there car has broken down call triple AAA for them etc.
7. Remember you always have options
Also, to deal with manipulation remember you have options you can take. When someone appeals to your ethics or sympathy it’s implied you shouldn’t ignore them unless you want to be a heartless, immoral person. When someone attempts to scare you into doing something they’re implying if you don’t oblige something bad will happen. However, it’s important to remember you have options and you don’t have to comply.
For example, when faced with a gunman who says “come with me or else” you get shot there’s another option. RUN AWAY. When someone says “park this car and let me in” another option is drive away as fast as you can. When someone says you’re a dead man I’m going to stomp you in the pavement, there’s another option; escape or hit first and then escape. Never forget the options you have available for yourself. Manipulative tactics attempt to lead you to believe that you objectively don’t have alternatives. In reality, you have options and to the extent you want to survive you need to take them.
We all want to live peacefully and foster great relationships with other people. As a result, I’m not calling for constant paranoia that stops you from making connections with others. However, we have to balance our desire for connection with the reality that we live in. Our society has violent predators who wish to harm us. So, we must take precautions for our safety and feel comfortable making ourselves the number one priority.