By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)
Psychopaths do a great deal of damage to their victims. The fact that there are people who are aware of what they are doing and choose to “look the other way” or to “sit on the fence and do nothing” enables the psychopaths to continue to abuse their victims. If the bystanders would stand up and assist the victims, even acknowledge that they are being victimized, the psychopaths might not be quite so successful.
One of the most famous of these enablers who chose to look the other way was a man named Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect in Jerusalem in AD 33. When Jesus was brought before him by the Jewish leaders, Pilate stated that he found “no fault” in Jesus, yet he gave Jesus over to the mob to be crucified.
To signify that he had no responsibility for the death of Jesus, Pilate had water and a basin brought and he literally “washed his hands” of what the mob intended to do. Yet, he did nothing to stop it.
The dictionary defines the word “minion” as “a servile follower or subordinate of a person in power.” These people also enable the psychopath to continue to victimize their prey by either helping the psychopath, or by simply “looking the other way” as Pilate did. Minions can also be very active participants with the psychopath in the victimization of the prey.
Examples of doing nothing
A famous case of people knowing a horrible crime was being committed and doing nothing was the murder of Kitty Genovese outside her Queens, NY, home in March, 1964. There were 38 witnesses who did nothing—not even call the cops when they heard her scream for nearly a half hour as she was repeatedly stabbed on that fateful night.
A more recent example of people doing nothing is the Penn State case of Jerry Sandusky’s pedophilia. The head coach and the president of the university knew what Sandusky was doing and chose to do nothing, which allowed Sandusky to continue to abuse young boys sexually for more several years.
Of course not all “enabling” of psychopaths are as “serious” as the crucifixion of Christ, the molestation of dozens of young boys, or the brutal murder of a young woman. But the help and support offered by others does enable psychopaths to “get away with” much more than they would otherwise.
Tattling and telling
We teach our kids not to be “tattle tales” and kids learn not to “snitch” on each other. When my kids were little, I tried to teach them the difference between “tattling” and “telling.” “Tattling” was saying “Johnny called me a doo doo,” but that “telling” was saying, “Johnny is playing with matches and setting fire to the curtains.”
I don’t support gossip or tattling in any way, but we must be aware that when we keep our mouths shut and allow evil to flourish, we are contributing to that evil.
My guess is that most of the people reading this on Lovefraud have experienced people being enablers (either actively or passively) to the psychopath that abused them. People either knew the truth and turned their backs, or actively participated in helping the psychopath accomplish their abuse.
Blame the victim
Psychopaths are also usually very good at the “smear campaign.” When the victim is finally trying to break free, they smear the name, sanity and reputation of the victim to everyone who will listen. Unfortunately, too many times the victim is blamed for their own victimization, or labeled crazy or vindictive for trying to protect themselves. “Yeah he hit her, but she was so mouthy, what can you expect?” Or “well if she’d been a better wife, he wouldn’t have needed to cheat.”
The hurt for the victim becomes double or treble when the enabler or fence sitter is someone the victim counted on for support, such as friend, neighbor, co-worker, relative or even the police and the courts. When someone you have counted on to believe you and validate you, instead turns their back on you, in addition to the trauma from the psychopath, the pain may be simply overwhelming, leaving the victim feeling totally abandoned.
I can’t even imagine the horror that Kitty Genovese must have felt that night as she cried out in terror for someone to save her. Yet, I know that many victims of psychopaths have cried out to people that they expected would help them, would support them, only to find a total lack of concern.
The news reports today are filled with stories of people who “knew” and yet did nothing, or worse, helped the abusers. Whistle blowers are still persecuted relentlessly. Those are facts of life.
For what it is worth, though, even if no one else believes us, it doesn’t change the truth or the facts. While we would appreciate support and validation from others, we don’t always get it, even from those we hold most dear. Learning to validate our own knowledge of the truth may be the closest we come to receiving support.
In my own situation, essentially my entire family, immediate and extended, have either actively assisted my psychopathic son Patrick, stood by silently while he tried to harm me, or washed their hands and didn’t even bother to listen. It hurts when those we have depended on fail us, but it is not the end of the world. In most cases, and we can move on. We can learn to validate ourselves and what we know is the truth.
Fortunately, there is Lovefraud, and the many bloggers here who do support and validate us in our healing journey. I hope that each person here will feel free to reach out to others for support when you need it, and that you will reach out to extend validation and support to others who need your support. That’s what it is all about.