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Things We Can Learn From A Teenaged Boy About Dealing With Predators

This TED video came up on the radar yesterday (I just discovered the TED channel recently, and I think it is SO the cat’s bum).

Anyway, in a nutshell, an 11-year-old boy in Kenya, whose family raised cattle near Nairobi National Park, had a huge problem with lions jumping their fences and attacking their animals. In observing the lions, he noted something about their behavior that called to mind a simple solution to a problem the government had already spent many millions to try to address. Check this out:

I was so proud of this boy I got goosebumps – he had so little available to him, but he leveraged what he knew about the lions in a way that not only protected his family and their cattle, but the lions as well.

So, how can we apply elements of this story in our dealings with human predators?

  • Observe the enemy. Richard noticed behavioral patterns in the lions. Human predators (narcissists, psychopaths, abusers, “players”) often have tell-tale behaviors of their own that betray who they are and their motivations. If you have a history of being exploited or abused, you may also have behavioral (and even thought) patterns that predators pick up on and that you need to increase your awareness of. The internet makes so much of this information easily accessible, and check out your local library, too. It costs nearly nothing to educate yourself.
  • Check your boundaries. Richard’s family’s cattle were fenced in, and thus protected as reasonably as they could be. But, sometimes these nocturnal lions would circumvent the gates and attack the herd. Richard thought outside the box and found another way to “enforce” the family farm’s boundaries. Likewise, many books about abusers state that often, those who fall victim have either weak or non-existent boundaries. Insufficient boundaries may be a side-effect of being raised in a dysfunctional family of origin – if so, it is not your fault that your boundaries are too permeable, but as an adult, you are responsible for identifying your own weak boundaries and shoring them up.
  • Shed some light on the problem. Richard outsmarted the lions, literally, by the use of randomly flickering lights strung around his property. The lions apparently keep their distance because they think that there are humans nearby. Abusers of any flavor also don’t like their behaviors exposed, though the thing is that many of them are not engaging in “illegal” acts. Some are simply being consistently rude, manipulative, condescending, and so forth. That said, if it is safe to do so, there is something to be said for calling their behavior what it is, especially to others who will support you. Those of us who blog about abusive relationships are doing that, and I believe that the more of us who break the silence, the more people will learn and take steps to protect themselves, and in time public perception on what constitutes abuse will change. Another TED speaker, Leslie Morgan Steiner, literally told everyone she could about the abuse she endured, and decades later, she is still talking about it to build public awareness of the problem.
  • No Contact, whenever possible, is the best solution. Richard went beyond physical barriers and harnessed the lions’ instincts to solve the problem of lion attacks. His solution took lion killing out of the equation, which benefitted the lions as well. His solution created distance between predator and prey. Likewise, No Contact with abusers helps take away their power over you. No Contact allows you the space to heal. No Contact takes away the possibility of being hooked back in to their bad behavior, or of being wooed by weak promises of change on their part. I personally don’t advocate anything but TOTAL No Contact after my experiences with Psychopath #1 and Psychopath #2. That means you don’t even stalk them on Facebook or allow well-meaning friends to talk to you about the latest rumors concerning your ex-abuser’s new love interest(s). No Contact enables a psychological and emotional disconnection as much as a physical one. Change your email address and phone number. Give up Facebook. Move if you have to. Do whatever it takes to look after yourself and your well-being – and remember – your abuser had the chance from the very start of the relationship to treat you with kindness and respect but failed epically. (At some point, you have to chalk up recurrent or escalating abusive behavior to a deficient personal value system or disordered character on the part of your abuser, IMHO, factors that are highly unlikely to ever change). This principle is not going to be easily adopted if you have ties to your abuser, such as children together, but enforcing it to the best of your ability still helps.

    Predators are a given in our world; that is unlikely to change. Richard did not seek to change the lions, he changed his approach to dealing with them. And the sooner we realize that we cannot change our predators, only ourselves and our own awareness and response to them, the better.

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  • 3 comments on “Things We Can Learn From A Teenaged Boy About Dealing With Predators

    1. oh my dear, I like the way your mind thinks!! Excellent post!!!

    2. Reblogged this on My journey of healing from psychological abuse and commented:
      Very good post from JerkBusters! This is wonderful for both the new survivor and the seasoned ones, who are trying to change, grow and reaffirm boundaries. Read this, then follow her blog! Most excellent!

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