2016-10-11 by Object of Contempt
Emotional abusers employ projection regularly. Actually, we all do. Projection isn’t wrong in and of itself, it is part of normal life. It happens so commonly that we are unaware of it when we do it. Naturally, catching someone else projecting onto us can be even more difficult. Projection is often not spoken aloud. It is frequently just part of the attitudes and expectations of the one who is projecting.
Projection allows normal people to interact with others, especially people we don’t know well. We are projecting when we assume that another person is familiar with the same things we are. We use our own experience and perspective to build a more “complete” mental picture of who this new person is in our life, and what they are like.
This is where we start from in a new relationship. Projection can consist of a myriad of things, many of them mundane. We might project a knowledge of the language we speak, or of what is going on in the news, for example. But, let’s focus on projections that affect relationships: We may assume a person has a conscience because we do. We may assume that someone is willing to apologize because we would. We might assume a person wouldn’t say cruel words, because we know cruelty is malicious. We assume a person wants love because he or she said so… who would lie about that??
Most commonly, decent people project decency on others so that they can become closer friends, lovers, or whatever.
The dangerous one that hurts me a lot, though, is assuming that it was unintentional when someone devastates us with actions that contradict our projections. This kind of projection leaves one open to any number of abusive tactics.
Frequently, abused people project a buried desire for love and good-will on their abusers. This is done in order to cope with a situation that is painful and seems hopeless.
Many abusers, on the other hand, are lacking some of those virtues that are projected on them. They may simply justify their abuse by their contempt and/or arrogance. An abuser can lack those virtues to the degree that they cannot properly project virtue on anyone. A virtuous, humble person is a foreign concept at best. If the abuser sees virtuous acts, they are likely to see it as a weakness, or an act… after all, this is their experience, therefore that is what he or she projects (eg.:control, unreasonable anger).
When a victim starts to wake up and come out of the FOG (fear, obligation, guilt), the abuser will often step up their efforts. That may well mean intentionally projecting attitudes and actions on you with total awareness (eg.:infidelity, efforts to isolate).
The abuser’s projections not only destroy the victim’s spirit. They also destroy existing relationships, and encourage some to harrass the victim (however sweet and well-intentioned they may be, they are still taking the role of “flying monkey”).
The ugliest impact, though, is that the abuser has taken a healthy process and broken the victims ability to function with it. The victim will have a difficult path to being able to trust that new people in his or her life have basic, common, good-will. The abuser has effectively put enormous barriers to getting close to the people that can encourage and help.
I am only sharing the things I have learned as I go through my own experience with a very covert abuser. I am not a psychologist, pastor, counsellor, or genius. Regardless, feel free to share your comments below.