Thursday Thought — Charm: A Red Flag
He is so charming! Oh, isn’t he charming! How often have victims heard phrases like these used to describe their abuser? Too often, far too often.
Gavin de Becker, author of The Gift of Fear, [affiliate link*], Lundy Bancroft, and Dr. George Simon have some informative insight into this common abuser tactic. Take a moment to read de Becker’s quote and the articles by Bancroft and Simon (links to the entire articles are included below) and then share with us how charm was part of your abuser’s facade.
Excerpt from Gavin de Becker’s book, The Gift of Fear, p57-8
Charm is an overrated ability. Note that I called it an ability, not an inherent feature of one’s personality. Charm is almost always a directed instrument, which, like rapport building, has motive. To charm is to compel, to control by allure or attraction. Think of charm as a verb, not a trait. If you consciously tell yourself, “This person is trying to charm me,” as opposed to “This person is charming,” you’ll be able to see around it. Most often, when you see what’s behind charm, it won’t be sinister, but other times you’ll be glad you looked.
Excerpt from Lundy Bancroft’s article “Rethinking Charm”
It’s not our fault that we got hooked on charm, given our societal training, but we need to get past it. Abusers tend to be charming. Sociopaths tend to be charming. People with personality disorders tend to be charming. Con artists tend to be charming. Users tend to be charming.
Is every charming person exploitative? No. But charm is not a good sign. We need to do a 180 degree turn in how we think about charm. . .
Excerpt from George Simon’s article “Manipulators and Charm”
Some folks are charming in the most benign and appealing way. They are not only sincerely well-mannered but also genuinely positively regarding of others. The very way in which they conduct themselves and the authentic respect they have for others is “attractive” in its own right. But there are those characters whose display of charm is a farce, part of a calculated use of seduction to take advantage of others. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s really hard to tell the difference between benign charm and malevolent seduction, but armed with sufficient information and with some careful scrutiny a person can distinguish the two. . .
Note: “Manipulators and Charm” is part one of a two-part series. Part two: “Charm Offensive or Offensive Charm?”