03 July 2008

Abuser On Audio

We interrupt our previously scheduled program on inner-directedness for a public service announcement.

This audio clip, posted on YouTube, will make your blood run cold.

It's a pair of voicemails, left for a woman by a man over about a 72 hour period.

The YouTube poster provides the background. The woman was with friends; a total stranger accosted her; she gave him a business card with her work number [smart move, avoiding giving out her home or cell; smarter move would be to tell the guy to give her his number instead...].

And he called.

Boy, did he call.

This guy went from phony idealization to stark abusiveness in the span of 72 hours or less, without as much as seeing the woman again at any point during that time.

Listen to the messages.

The first one is a transparent attempt to 'set the hook'. He tries to position himself as important, desirable. To come across as a REAL man, available NOW and Ready To Commit! in search of a REAL woman, one who is "strong" and "independent". [And note the attempt to 'hook' her via appeals to unhealthy competitiveness vs. her women friends.]

It's precisely these attempts to 'hook' the prey that give the game away. And the mask slips quite badly at one point, when he insinuates that she is 'timid'. This is what a fiction writer would call 'foreshadowing'; I call it 'telegraphing his punches'. In this moment, he shows her exactly what he has in mind for her. He is already unable to resist the temptation to insult her, even as he ladles on the phony praise.

Sadly, there are women who respond to such poseurs. The innocent, the very young, the inexperienced, the desperately lonely, those who do regard their friends primarily as rivals... and those who have never known anyone but poseurs of this type... might hear the first message and be sufficiently deceived. Or, God help them, 'intrigued'. Or they might decide to disregard the obvious red flags out of misplaced decency, having been trained to always give others the benefit of the doubt - at their own expense. Even more sadly, there are plenty of poseurs of this type who have far more credible poses. This fellow is an amateur.

All pretense is gone in the second message.

You see, for whatever reason, the lady failed to take the bait. Perhaps she was on vacation, and let her office messages stay in the office. Or perhaps she was, in fact, genuinely "strong and independent", and knew exactly what she was dealing with when she heard his first commercial.

But one does not spurn this Lothario.

Listen to his abusive rage.

Listen to him as he begins in anger that is wholly inappropriate, out of all proportion to any possible provocation. Listen as he moves directly to insulting, threatening and abusing the very woman he was praising and pursuing not two days previously, a woman he does not even know, a woman with whom he has never had a single actual conversation.

Listen to the projection.

He's had an entire relationship with her, from romance to heartbreak, in the space of three days, exclusively in his own head. And now, as he insults and browbeats her answering machine, he is telling her all about himself.

This is an abusive relationship in fast-forward. This is the mentality of a stalker, of a batterer, from start to finish.

Including the fact that there was nobody on the other end of the line to hear either his blandishments or his rage.

That is the reality of interaction with an abuser. You, as a person, as an individual, as a separate self, do not exist. You are only a target. You are only prey.


Edit in, 05-Jul-2008: Jezebel.com provides the following transcript of this man's messages. I've pasted them here for easy access.
Message 1:

Hey Olga, it's Dimitri.

Sorry I had to leave such a rushed message with you when we met the other day. I just wanted to quickly give you my phone number, and needed to get the heck out of the area. In any event, I thought I had better leave you a more detailed message and explain why I approached you. I am single. I have no trouble meeting women; I mean, women approach me six or seven times a day. But I'm extremely particular about what I like. You're an extremely elegant woman. I couldn't take my eyes off you, and your friends were very jealous — even if they say they weren't, they were envious of the fact that I approached you, and I was very taken by you. Elegant women are very rare. I'm Greek and I'm extremely particular about what I like. So I'm giving you an opportunity here. I don't know if you picked up the message on the weekend but I'm working on a movie script so I'll be doing that all weekend…

This looks like a land line, and if it is you may not get the message till Monday. But when you do, call me and we'll get together for coffee or drinks, and let the romance begin. You looked very taken aback by my approach, and I hope that wasn't timidness, I hope it was just shock at being approached so directly. Because I don't really date timid women, because I'm a very direct, very passionate, very assertive man, and I want a woman who is very independent and strong. So… we'll talk about that, but I just wanted to formally introduce myself. I leave the ball in your court. You call me as soon as you have the courage to. Okay, Olga? Talk to you soon, bye.

Message 2:

Hi there, Olga it's Dimitri calling again, the guy from the street. I left you a message several days ago you said you were interested.

Now, here's the way I work. I don't like leaving second messages but I like you, you're a very elegant woman, you're very attractive, but, you know, I don't play that game. I know your friends tell you not to return calls; you're playing games like you see in stupid TV shows. So here's how it's gonna work.

It is now 4:30 on Wednesday. Now I'll assume, I'll assume that you've already left work, because, you know, some people leave work early, so I'll grant you that. But if I don't receive a phone call back from you by 3 o'clock Thursday afternoon I'm no longer interested and I'm going to erase your number. I don't play games like that. I'm completely single, I'm very intelligent, I'm great in bed, I make great money. Believe it or not, I'm a complete catch. I've only been single four months; I had a long distance relationship for about a year, it's very tough to maintain it like that; there's nothing wrong with me. As a matter of fact I'm one of the few men in the city that has nothing wrong with him. So I'm giving you the three o'clock deadline. If I don't hear from you by then, you lose my number — I'm erasing your number right now, so you won't be hearing back from me.

So that's it: three o'clock tomorrow, or you can just completely forget it.

Now I understand if you've got other issues, maybe you're not playing games, I don't know… maybe you were abused in childhood?…Maybe your mother has cancer, and you're going to chemo…maybe you're just a person who's extremely frightened or has an anxiety disorder, maybe you're on some medication for that…I don't know, there could be another issue that I'm not aware of. But nobody says "Call me," hands a person a business card and then doesn't return calls. It's extremely passive aggressive. You should actually look that up, passive-aggressive personality disorder. You let me know, if you've got issues, psychological issues, if you're on any sort of medication for anxiety or depression, I'm not interested. But if you're psychologically normal, and you haven't called me because there's been some horrible thing that's happened in your life that's prevented you from returning my calls, that's fine. But otherwise? Don't call me. Okay, bye.
These are, as Cinder Ella comments below, an amazing teaching tool. Abusers frequently rely on their ability to shock and daze us when they surprise us with outrageous criticism and demands; this works best when their outrageousness comes at us out of the blue, i.e. a verbal onslaught for which we have no prior warning.

Reading the post above before listening to the voicemail clip helps you know what to watch for; seeing the actual transcript after reading a discussion of its abusiveness should be even more helpful.

There are Dimitris everywhere. And don't forget the rest of his family: the mothers, the fathers, the sisters. In a future post, I'll furnish some samples of less obvious, but equally abusive, language interactions from other types of relationships. It will be easy to see the abusive patterns, with this sample as a guide!


Blogger Stormchild said...

Rather than editing the main post, I want to add a few additional thoughts in a comment here.

First: there are a lot of posts about this audio clip in various places on the Net... google "Dimitri + Olga" and you'll find the discussions. I didn't use names in my post because I prefer not to use anyone's actual name in discussing these situations; in this case, however, the names are right there on YouTube.

Second: There's a lot of denial and identification with the abuser in our society, and you'll see this very clearly if you visit those discussions.

One extremely common form of denial/minimization is to treat abusive behavior as though it is a joke. This absolves us of any need to take it seriously, think about it, or take any action regarding it, while simultaneously allowing us to pretend that we have dealt with it constructively.

Third: I refer to the abusive rage of this caller. This may seem like a strange description when you listen to his messages, because he does not raise his voice, he does not use profanity.

He is, instead, a 'cold rager', aka a 'calm abuser'. This type of abuse, where people remain reasonably coherent, use technical terms and subordinate clauses in their sentences, and maintain a level tone of voice, often fails to register as abuse with onlookers because the term 'abuse' is interpreted as yelling, screaming, swearing, red faces, etc.

Make no mistake, this is abuse. He has unilaterally set unreasonable expectations on the woman; he is escalating them to demands; he proceeds to insult her, to impugn her mental health, to issue ultimata and threats, and then, breathtakingly, offers to give her a 'pass' on his narcissistic wrath if her unavailability is the result of a personal tragedy.

Which brings me to the fourth point.

This type of abuse - phony praise and self-salesmanship peppered with little snipes and jabs, grotesquely one-sided expectations, pressure and escalating hostility, and the maintaining of a calm facade while savaging someone with words, can be found in all varieties of relationships, across all socioeconomic levels and age groups.

It's not reserved for the dating/mating world. It starts as early as kindergarten, and it persists into retirement homes. You'll find it in classrooms, churches, offices, factories, hospitals and military bases, in doctors' offices and support groups.

Go back and look at how Aranna and Pica actively manipulate their associates and covertly align them against a chosen target, and you will see similarities.

04 July, 2008 12:16  
Blogger Katherine Gunn said...

All I can say is, 'Yikes! Run away as fast as you can!" This is a very familiar tactic to me. *shudder*

05 July, 2008 03:57  
Blogger Cinder Ella said...

Uh, Wow. This guy has no way of knowing it (he'd never be able to admit it to himself), but he's provided a useful teaching tool on so many levels. This guy isn't pulling a prank. It's obvious there's no joking going on. He may start out sounding like a caricature of an arrogant jerk, but it's a thin veneer hiding one scary person.


05 July, 2008 13:30  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Katherine, cinder ella -

Amen, amen.

Since posting this, I've found a transcript at another site, which I've pasted [with a backlink] into the main post above. The pathology is incredibly obvious when you can look at his actual words.

05 July, 2008 14:31  
Blogger Issendai said...

Terrifying. I agree, the man is an amateur--and at the age he seems to be, he's likely to stay an amateur, because after a certain point men like him don't learn. That may double the amount of damage he does, because the only women who go for him will be the most clueless and vulnerable of the lot. Painful to think that there's no way to stop him and likely no way to get them away from him--if they're that dedicated to seeing good in everyone, then they're unlikely to change their minds "just" because he's being mean to them.

Has the recording been online long enough for Dimitri to find it and respond? On one hand, anything he would have to say would be priceless. On the other hand, does anyone believe he really threw Olga's number away?

06 July, 2008 15:55  
Blogger Stormchild said...

Interesting point, that this type of amateur does more damage by harming the clueless, vulnerable ones. I agree, 'letting the romance begin' with someone like this could be so harrowing for a young naive woman that she'd carry scars lifelong.

Although we may feel powerless to intervene, at least we have the Internet, and we can practice Samizdat... talk about it, teach about it, show what it is and what it means. Chip away at the obliviousness, the enabling, the dedication, as you say, to 'seeing good in everyone' rather than 'seeing if each person is good'.

I don't know if Dimitri has responded to the YouTube posting yet... but I had an 'Alice's Restaurant' type of daydream yesterday, thinking about this... imagining women all over the world, and yes, men too, uploading abusive emails and voicemails, from their fathers mothers sisters brothers lovers bosses doctors clergy and on and on and on, to YouTube - or its equivalent. With names.

For the world to see what people really do to each other when they think no one's looking, or they think that they can get away with it.

On the plus side, nobody has written to me to defend him. Yet. Thus may it ever be.

And I do devoutly hope that he has the good sense to stay away from Olga henceforward. She strikes me as rather good at self-defense ;-).

06 July, 2008 20:28  
Blogger CZBZ said...

I posted a link to your entry because it's important for people to listen to a blatant abuser like Dimitri. Once we can hear the manipulation and abuse in a clear-cut dialogue, we're better prepared to pick up on subtleties.

No abuser reaches midlife without having practiced manipulation for years. By that time, their covert abuse is so devious people don't know what hit 'em til their self-esteem is in the dumps.

I also feel it's imperative to get the word out to people, especially those who have suffered a recent loss of some kind (including broken love relationships). We are NOT thinking clearly and we're more vulnerable to manipulation when we're suffering. So here comes this guy who appears to alleviate our suffering and before we realize what happened, we're feeling worse than we did before meeting him (or her).

Thanks for the post and also, thank you for this comment: "'seeing good in everyone' rather than 'seeing if each person is good'."


07 July, 2008 16:26  
Blogger Katherine Gunn said...

"As a matter of fact I'm one of the few men in the city that has nothing wrong with him."

This quote is the biggest red flag among a host of red flags. Nothing wrong with him? Geez!

07 July, 2008 16:27  
Blogger Stormchild said...

CZ, you are so right. Anyone who is recently wounded is likely to be much more vulnerable to predators of this type... aching for human comfort, unable to remain sufficiently detached to see what's really going on. And there's precious little information or guidance available to us about this stuff. Thank God for the Net.

Katherine, absolutely. When I was analyzing Pica's interaction with her group in a previous post [see "Abuse and Groupthink: The Game", from January of this year] one of the major red flags I commented on was ... self-praise. Of the inordinate variety.

Anyone who sings their own praises, loudly and continuously, should be closely inspected for evidence of the exact opposite being true.

08 July, 2008 20:15  

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