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As we're all talking about dangerous, abusive patterns of behavior, there is one that stands out to me as particularly painful, especially in communities that are trying to heal. It's a type of manipulation that can be incredibly difficult to navigate well.
There is a type of person who considers themself a master chess player, a social strategist, and a cunning manipulator of individuals (who they do not see as people, but as tools) and circumstances.

That is, until something goes wrong.
When this type of person encounters a boundary they don't like, or a refusal to do precisely what they want - their narrative turns inside-out. Suddenly, they are an innocent victim being battered by cruel monsters (who they still do not see as people, but as obstacles).
I was in a relationship with a man who used this precise tactic to make me think of myself as a monster for saying the words "no" or "don't." The response was immediate, and made it clear that I was hurting him monstrously and without cause.

It's a *very* effective tactic.
The reason this tactic works so well, and the reason it's so painful and insidious, is that it plays off the empathy of the target. "I'm hurting," someone says, and of course we want to care for them and listen to them, because that's how many of us respond to pain.
Those of us who think in terms of caring for and centering victims might strictly remind ourselves: hurting people hurt people, and those who are cruel still deserve care. This is a vital perspective that we mustn't forget.

It is also a perspective that can be exploited.
Watch for the way a narrative shifts when a manipulative person doesn't get their way. Watch for the moments when they frame themself as a powerhouse, and the moments when they frame themself as an ingenue. Take note of patterns that emerge.
People's perspectives on themselves and their power can shift with time and circumstances. Those who have dealt injuries can also receive them. These things are true! But watch for the patterns, and be aware of the moments when your desire to provide care is being exploited.
If a grown adult who is not in your care is intentionally framing themself and their experiences in a way that is designed to make you treat them like a child, ask yourself what end that serves. Ask yourself if it is appropriate, given the circumstances you're observing.
Maybe it is appropriate, given the circumstances and the person. Maybe it's coming out of a place of pain and a desire for comfort and care. You do not need to approach a hurting person with a checklist of how it's appropriate to behave! I promise you don't!
The point of this disgustingly long thread is: watch for patterns of self-portrayal, for the moments when a person will or won't own their agency. Protect your open, caring heart, because it is a beautiful part of you that nobody should ever abuse for vengeance or personal gain.
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