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  • Writer's pictureChris Williams

When Abusers Turn on the Charm

Tricking friends and family into believing they could never be cruel is an abuser’s forte.

Who doesn’t love someone who can charm their way through a dinner party with confident conversation, astute observations on the world and just the right amount of humor sprinkled in? You’ve found yourself a good one there, say jealous friends.

They’re smitten, just like you were, before you saw this person’s other side. The side that only comes out when you’re at home, alone, and no one else can see it—the aggressive, controlling and sometimes violent side.

Some abusers are literal Prince Charmings—in fact, survivors who have told their story here on, like Nikki, have used that exact phrase to describe the person they first met. Unfortunately, what survivors come to learn is that it’s all an act used to deflect attention from what they may someday disclose to friends—that Prince Charming yells, threatens, shoves, hits.

No, not him, say your friends. I don’t see it.

And that’s exactly what the abuser is hoping for.

Anyone Can Fall for It

Attorney Wendy Patrick has spent more than two decades prosecuting cases involving interpersonal abuse, which includes both cross-examining defendants in trial about their conduct, and working with survivors. She knows a thing or two about abusers’ tricks, even penning a piece for Psychology Today outlining the “socially charming domestic abuser.”

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