“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Be aware of manipulation

It has been interesting over the years of ministry with adults with intellectual disabilities, that there have been several occasions, only a few, where those with higher functioning disabilities have manipulated those with a bit less intellectual abilities.

One happened about 10 years back when two women got into a sequence of altercations. The higher functioning woman seemed to instigate the confrontations. Because she had a better command of language, she would typically frustrate the other. This happened repeatedly until ultimately the woman with less command of language in frustration pushed her such that she fell down. The result was the the first woman called the police, filed an assault charge and basically scared the other half to death. I would reassure her that nothing would happen as a result and nothing did, but it forever scarred the less capable woman and she never returned to our ministry the other for a while would show up with her Cheshire cat grin.

Most recently, a similar situation occurred between two women and a man in our group. The women being the higher functioning and the man less so. We ultimately came to understand how the two had been manipulating the man. I spoke to him on several occasions trying to explain to him what was happening to him and also spoke to one of the women telling her to stop the behaviors she was engaging in. But she continued and her manipulation was too powerful for him. Ultimately it set him off to where he became mildly physically aggressive but it might have been much worse. As it stands, all three of the group are not involved in our ministry. The man through input from his family has separated himself from our ministry, probably a wise move on his part, and the women were asked to leave for a period of time. I plan to continue to facilitate friendship with the man. Hopefully they will follow our request to refrain from the social media interactions and posts that led to the altercation.

The take home lesson is that people are people and will often do the kinds of things people will do. Particularly if the see that they have some power over others. If you are aware, try to protect those in your group who might seem more competent than they are and can be bullied by others. I was grateful that the altercation didn't escalate more than it did.



Shaian said...

These are excellent examples of “people are going to do what people do” like you said. I'm glad neither one of these situations escalated higher and good think this was put to a stop. Unfortunately I see this happen all the time and I have seen it since I was younger as well. I can kind of relate to this because my older sister has autism, she is fully functioning but her mind is set just a couple years behind her age and she has a hard time learning simple functions. Although she is my older sister, I watched people walk all over her as we were growing up and even to this day. It was common to see other kids who do not have autism make fun or make her do things knowing she is a little on the slower side when we were younger. But there is one instance that really bothers me and it happened just a few years ago. Our boss at work knew she had autism and worked to ask her questions or tell her specific things just to confuse her and our boss would get her way. She would purposely word things in different ways so my sister would do the opposite and be left confused. This is too a form of bullying and I feel as though it can relate to your encounters as well.

Brayden Arbeiter said...

I agree with your stance in saying that these people are people and with that, come the flaws and sin of man. People who have disabilities are not above or below this fact of life and because of that, one can see that this further makes them 'normal'.
I also agree that we must protect those around us from the manipulation; especially those who have more prevalent disabilities.

Great post.

Anonymous said...

I read your post, and it is so sad that individuals behave like this. I work with little ones and some kids have similar behaviors as you described in your post. In my class, I have quiet kids and loud kids. The loud kids tend to take over those quiet ones. They want to manipuate them and have them do or follow anything they want for them to do. I consider this behavor as being a "bully." This is a behavior that I completely dislike. When I was in middle school and high school, I was a victimm of being bullied. It took me a long time to defend myself, but I also know that it damage a few of my characterisctics because of the pain from others evil actions.

Unknown said...

It makes me so sad to read that high functioning individuals believe they can manipulate people with disabilities, simply because they have a disability. A ministry should be a safe space for everyone! It is like high-functioning individuals find joy in manipulating others. I have a cousin that has autism, and I am so protective over her, I cannot imagine what the family was feeling when aware of what was happening to their loved one in a place that was supposed to be a safe space for them. Regarding the lady that pressed charges, it makes me wonder why she would engage in actions that would frustrate someone and expect no reaction? Anyone that consistently faced frustrating confirmations with the same person would get fed up and eventually could react. People with disabilities are just that… people. It baffles me to think that ignorant individuals see them any different, see them as vulnerable people that can be pushed around and not react. People with disabilities can be aware when they are being made fun of, when they are being taken advantage of, etc. but it can be difficult for them to defend themselves properly. Personally, if I were to be the person getting manipulated, getting picked on, I, as a neurotypical, would probably engage in physical aggression as well! This is incredibly sad to read.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the reasons why I want to become a voice for those who are less capable. As you stated people are people and that is for better as well as for worse. We as a whole should be able to do our parts as God created all man equal. Growing up I was friends with all people and I plan to continue to do just that.