In my particular case, I received a birth announcement in the mail 15 years after disclosing the abuse. My abuser had given his child my first name. My therapist immediately recognized this as typical predator behavior, and said that this man was most certainly dangerous. Most sane, reasonable people I know agree. This was certainly not “normal” behavior.
Yet, within the community where the abuse occurred, I have encountered many who have attempted to rationalize, defend, and explain this abnormal, dangerous behavior.
In my post “The Gentle Wolves are Most Dangerous,” I included a video link where Dr. Simon explains the psychology behind such reactions (he also talks about it in his book, In Sheep’s Clothing). Those who’ve never encountered or been targeted by predatory aggressives struggle to fathom why a person would be motivated, not by fear or anger, but by desire to dominate and destroy another human.
Professor of Forensic Psychology, Dr. Katherine Ramsland, discusses why these predators among us are indiscernible until after they’ve blazed a trail of damage in her article “3 Signs of Inconspicuous Predators in Your Midst.” She says this: “Among their most dangerous features are a callous disregard for the rights of others and a propensity for violating norms. They can charm and manipulate others for their own gain, conning with no regard for anyone’s feelings.”
So, what does this “callous disregard” look like? After my abuser’s mother found out part of what he had done, he was told to write my family a letter of “apology.” This was written months after my initial disclosure. Here’s a glimpse into the mind of a predator.
The W—- [addressed to my parents]
I am writing this letter in the up most sincerity and apology. It is regarding the instance with me and Shannon. I can’t begin to tell you all how sorry that I truly am. I will never be able to tell you how sorry I am and how I regret what I did. I feel I would give my life in return to restore or erase Shannon’s memory of what happened. [Sounds good so far, right? Or does it? Note that he never actually says he is sorry. He says he “can’t tell” my family how “sorry” he is. He would give his “life,” but years later he named his child “Shannon.” The person who wrote this knew exactly what he was doing. Manipulation 101.]
I feel that I have never been the same since. I mean it always seems to loom over my head all the time. And I am sure it does you all also. [Narcissism. This apology is focused on what he lost.]
I know that Shannon has thought highly of me in the past and I am sure she does not now but I am truly sorry for the instance. I can also understand as a family it has shaken you all a lot. I feel that you all grit your teeth when I enter the room and that is understandable. As for me and the lord are concerned I was truly down. [More narcissism. Also, a lie. It wasn’t “the” instance. Multiple instances. Hours at a time. For over a year.]
I have prayed tons and I know you may not believe that. I feel that I have made you [my mother] and [my father] bitter against me and possibly lost respect in the church. And for that I am truly sorry also.
I’ll never really know why I did it or why it happened. I have gone back to God many times with this in prayer and I feel miserable every time I think of it. I can understand why you as a family have lost respect and confidence in me. I only hope that I can maybe try to apologize and tell you where I stand. I do appreciate you [my mom] and [my dad] for the consideration for me after knowing what has happened. I know that I am not perfect and I really showed it there. That was the only thing that I have ever done that was truly terrible and horrendously wrong. [Again, this is a lie. It wasn’t “the only thing,” and he, himself, contradicts this in the very next sentence. Though that, too, will be a lie.]
As for being Sanctified [“saved,” or “born again”] I was not shortly after the second time. It all just caught up with me and I could not take it or try to fix it anymore. Although I have not been to the altar [our church’s way of asking for forgiveness and getting salvation] I have prayed about it immensely. [One, I don’t see how someone sexually assaulting a female could be saved at any point while he was assaulting her. Two, it was more than twice, but when he asked me “how much I knew,” I told him two times for sure. So he was lying here. Three, “it all just caught up with me” is maybe the most honest part of the letter. He was sorry he got caught. “All” means multiple sexual assaults. Still, there was no “fixing” anything. It ended when I spoke up.]
If you all would like to sit and talk about it more then we can, I just don’t know how to approach you all about it. I was trying to put it all behind me and my mother called and made me feel even worse. I didn’t know what to tell her but I screwed up. I just hope you as a family do not think this letter cheezy. I am truly sorry for the pain I have caused you all and I will not even ask for your forgiveness. [Here it is. No real remorse. He didn’t write any of this out because he was sorry. He wrote this because his reputation had been damaged. The next lines drip of sarcasm veiling the anger he really felt.]
If you could just bear in mind that wasn’t The Sanctified D—–. Shannon, if you need to talk about it more please let me know. I feel terrible and I am sorry. [The condescending tone addressing me shows exactly how predators feel towards their prey. It also shows his shallow feelings and a failure to grasp the gravity of one’s actions.]
Even reading his words, knowing he named his child “Shannon” after saying here he would give his “life” to “erase” or “restore” my memory, and knowing he admitted to sexually assaulting me without my consent while I was unconscious, there will be those close to this person who defend him and rationalize this irrational pattern of behavior. As Dr. Ramsland points out, the predators out there know it: “Predators count on it, especially in those rare times when someone is savvy enough to spot them and try to alert others.” If our communities are to ever be safe, we’re going to have to remove our blinders.