Well OK! Let’s solve a mystery then. As I post Jenn’s story in parts, I am going to go through them and find the things that give us clues to Mr. Smith’s intentions. I will also attempt to point out Jenn’s vulnerabilities that Mr. Smith found attractive and compatible with his thinking.
As we solve Jenn’s mystery…maybe you will be able to solve your own.
Starting at the beginning. You’ve not seen me mention it yet but…I am a proud “step-mother” to a beautiful “step-daughter” who will be 22 end of this month. I use quotes because her father and I were never married, though we were together for a few years. I met her when she was 12 and helped raise her. Even helped her father get custody of her to live with us. On December 4th 2004, I had had enough of the twisted and mangled life we called a relationship. Living on the couch for over a year to avoid even speaking to him most times. So I left.
Like many victims, Jenn was already in an abusive relationship before she met Mr. Smith. Our story begins with Jenn sleeping on the sofa to avoid confrontation (cycle of violence ) .”Twisted and mangled” is an accurate description of how these relationships manifest.
Having been “out of a relationship” for over a year, I was emotionally ready to move on.
This is generally not an unreasonable amount of time to be out of an abusive relationship before considering another. What you were doing during that year is important though. Were you exploring what attracted you to and kept you in an unhealthy relationship? It is important to do some serious work on where your boundaries are, self-esteem, values, beliefs, and other vulnerabilities that could be exploited by someone else. Without this, distance is just distance, it’s not healing.
“…I had gotten private messaged by a guy whom I had been openly conversing with for a few weeks. This went on for another few weeks…By the end of January, he was asking to meet me. Meet me? Oh, ok, think. Am I actually as ready as I thought?…He was sweet, considerate, funny, divorced, and very good looking. So far, so good. He was even concerned about my welfare with my new job. I worked as a Mental Health Care Worker for a Boys Ranch for level 14 boys.”
Jenn is exploring a new relationship with caution. Her internal alarm goes off so she checks in with it, but ultimately dismisses it. In her defense, adept abusers are very good at constructing an illusion quickly to draw their potential victims in. It is helpful to ask the right questions about “red flag” subjects and learn to here through the answers for the truth.
Mr. Smith has been divorced.
- My first question to him is why?
- How does he answer my question?
- Does he talk disparaging about the ex?
- Does he take any responsibility for the failure of the relationship?
- Does he put himself in the role of a victim?
These are questions that can be illuminating and/or maybe increase the level of your alert.
I also keep lingering on the concern for Jenn’s work. On the one hand it is completely understandable. Level 14 at a Boys Ranch is, from what I understand, damage control. It is essentially like walking into a war zone. Think inner city high school on the worst day. Not that it is like that everyday, but it can be awfully close. Understanding this, I would pay close attention to how Mr. Smith is expressing his concern. Does he want to be her hero or is he validating her personal strength? There are a few things in play that aren’t necessarily red flags, but enough to keep me really cautious.
A characteristic that is attractive to an abuser is Jenn’s comfort in chaos. Undoubtedly, Mr. Smith has been “feeling her out” over the last few weeks. She comes from a chaotic childhood; has a chaotic past. Her last relationship was chaotic. Now she is in a chaotic job. At some point Jenn will need a break from chaos to recharge her batteries so she can deal with more chaos. As a predator, all Mr. Smith has to do is look like the perfect place to rest. The only problem for Jenn is, predators don’t let you rest…they keep you tired so that you are easier to control.
To be continued…