You died the moment you met me.
My kind are engaged in wholesale slaughter. A daily massacre. Nobody is stopping us either.
These massacres are not literal deaths. No, they way I leave you I believe that you may actually prefer to be dead in order to end the pain. The unrelenting pain and misery that I will inflict on you. What I kill is your confidence, your self-esteem and your sense of worth. I annihilate your finances, obliterate your friendships, shred your sanity and drive an icy cold dagger through your very being. You see, people like you pride yourselves on being honest, decent and understanding. That’s what makes you so attractive to me. That’s what makes the killing all the more complete.
You may think that I am an awful human being and that I revel in the consequences of my behaviour. For some of my kind that is right and for others it is not. Some of my kind have no awareness of what they and believe that what they do just has to be done. Others of my kind know exactly what we do. I am not concerned about how you feel. I have no interest in your reaction to what I do. All I am focussed on is what your emotional reaction does for me.
People are stupid. They need everything to be labelled, to be categorised and pigeonholed. They need great big flashing neon signs telling them what people are as they are too idiotic or lazy to try and work it out for themselves. See the man in a dirty raincoat with unkempt hair that hangs around the children’s playground? He is a child molester. Look over there at the man with a striped shirt and a bag with the word ‘Swag’ on it. He is a burglar. What about the lady in dirty, piss-stained clothes, mumbling to herself and trying to feed the pigeons stones? Oh she is a madwoman. That is what people expect to see. Ask anybody to draw a picture of a murderer and ninety-nine times out of a hundred, they will draw a crazed looking man, dressed in black, carrying a knife or a gun. They won’t sketch their spouse or their relative. Ask a person where they will most find a rapist and they will answer that he will be lurking behind a bush near the subway ready to leap out on some stranger. What they won’t do is point at their boyfriend sat next to them watching television.
And that is where the problem lies. You expect to be able to recognise those that will cause you harm in such an obvious manner. It isn’t like that. There is a reason that those dangerous people are able to hurt in the way that they do. It is because they are all around you. They are sat next to you in your car. They stand with you at the water cooler or in the lift. They talk to you at the school gates or serve you your daily coffee. They permeate society. That is what makes them so effective. The ability to blend in and hide in plain sight. How many times have you heard the neighbour interviewed about the horrific murder of a family by the father, say,
“He always seemed so friendly and happy.”
“He kept himself to himself.”
“He was a quiet man. I never thought he had it in him.”
Or my favourite.
“You don’t expect these things to happen here do you? You always think it couldn’t happen here.”
These people appear as innocuous as they are so ordinary and fit with their surroundings. They have masked what lurks beneath. These people, the drug dealers, the killers and the abusers were ordinary. They were themselves and they made no attempt to hide or be different.
This is what makes me so dangerous. I make a conscious attempt to blend in with those around me. I am a shape shifter. I take on the characteristics of my victims, mirroring what they love and enjoy. I become what you want me to be. You have always wanted to meet the successful business owner. I am he. How about the well-read bookish fellow who enjoys the theatre and some amateur dramatics? I can be him as well. You just love people who have travelled extensively? Let me tell you all about my yearlong world tour. Rock nut? Done. Singer? Do re me fah so lah ti do. Family man? No problem. I will morph and twist into these ideal people and in so doing I will slide my tendrils around you with insidious ease and pull you into the full horror of my world.
You are not able to see me coming. I hide behind a thousand masks. The bad people I have described above make no real effort to inveigle their way into your world. They are already there. They are part of your day-to-day life and you are unlucky that you just happened to be near them when they struck. I am completely different. I have come after you. I have marked you out as my prey and circled you, preparing to strike. I engage in subterfuge to further my aims and to enable me to glide in and out of people’s lives with slippery ease. I suddenly appear. Oh, there may be some existing connection admittedly, but that is all part of the preparation. When I actually enter your life I do so in a blaze of deliciously disorientating glory that has you rooted to the spot and gagging for more, such is the addictive nature of my behaviour.
All my work is done before I engage you. That is why your execution takes place the moment we meet. All else that follows is merely your elongated death throes and believe me, do I like to drag them out for the maximum of effect. I even pretend to try and resuscitate you from time to time. That’s just a ruse to enable me to suck more of the life from you. You may regard that as twisted. I don’t care. So long as I am able to feed, that is all that I care about. I must feed. Each and every moment to try and satiate this insatiable hunger that rages inside me. I think that the hunger can be sated but somehow, it never seems to be the case.
Thus my killing goes on and on and on. Victim after victim piling up and the beauty of it all is that I merely slip on another mask and melt away to find another unfortunate. I walk away leaving chaos and destruction in my wake but I never look over my shoulder.
Should you fear me? Absolutely. Sadly, for you, you don’t know what to look for because I do not come into your life bearing a warning. Once I have emotionally slain you, only then might you recognise the danger a second time but of course, by that point the damage is done. Amazingly, some of you come back for more. Incredible isn’t it? Sometimes it is with me or sometimes with another of my kind. The effect is the same however. Another excruciating death.
The beauty of all of this is that nobody can touch me. Those who might try to bring the sanction of criminal penalties against me usually fail. They either won’t do it because they still love me or that somehow they think they can save me and they would rather do that. There are others who are so broken they blame themselves and not me. Others again are so utterly destroyed they do not have the strength to take action. The very few that do not fall at these hurdles soon realise that my innate charm, my myriad of lies and irresistible powers of persuasion mean that actually getting the criminal law to apply to me is nigh on impossible. It is only right. The rules are not meant for me.
All of this means that next to nobody recognises my kind when we first choose you. Why would you? We bear no mark or label. We do not appear as some stereotype. We do not look like abusers but then what do abusers look like? They look like me. Him. Her.
That man sat across from you on the train in his suit reading a quality broadsheet. The headmistress who crochets around the clock and is a committed Christian.
The abuser looks like the construction worker downing his gallon of beer before weaving his way home.
He looks like the quiet neighbour.
The shy teenager.
The earnest music teacher.
The gregarious uncle.
Him. Her. Them.
You do not see us coming. You had no chance. Society repeatedly fails to identify what we are and how we operate. It downplays what we do with a host of euphemisms and woolly descriptions because people cannot accept that somebody who is so pleasant to them can then be so horrible too. Yet, that is precisely how we operate. Would you trust someone who punched you in the face when they first me you? Of course not. You’d trust him after three years of marriage before the first blow landed though wouldn’t you?
You would not trust the fraudster if he stole ten thousand pounds on his first day at work, but after five years of solid and loyal service you would not think twice that he was forging signatures and diverting funds to his personal bank account. Society and people are too ready to apply labels which diminish the impact of what we do and what we are. You can attest to the horrendous damage that we do, you know better than anybody else of the impact that we have and yet you have to listen to people talking about how he is “misunderstood”, “under pressure”, “not normally like that”, “must have been provoked”. These well-intentioned people cause considerable damage as the ignorant apologists for the carnage we unleash.
Now you know what we are, you can identify us with ease. You can now think back to all the people you have interacted with and now you see us as if we have been daubed in bright red paint. Your colleague at work. The “difficult” customer. Your mother. Your brother. That friend who upset you one week and then fawned over you the next. The lovers. The celebrities. The politicians. More and more of us are identified by you and yet still we are able to do what we want and move on to the next unsuspecting victim. Society does not identify us. Society does not understand what we are. Society is utterly ineffective in tackling us. Our numbers are growing and our devastating impact on the lives of all those we entangle (and it is never just the one person is it) grows but what is being done? Do the politicians know us (save when they look in the mirror)? Do the police officers understand what we are? The nurses? The social workers? The judges? The court appointed psychiatrist? The jury? The neighbours? The teachers? The local government officials? All those who might be able to do something to address what we are rarely know what we are leading to greater frustration for you and the continued advancement of our agendas.
Nobody is stopping us.
What are you going to do about it?