How to execute the perfect ‘hoover manoeuvre’

Have you tried to leave your abuser, just to get sucked back in? Are you stunned by the military-like precision with which your abuser tries to get you back? Then check out this tongue-in-cheek exposé on why and how abusers hoover.

A Quick Guide to Hoovering for the determined domestic abuse perpetrator  – and those of us determined to make that permanent break from our abuser.

I’m an abuser. Why do I need to hoover?

Yes, ordinarily you have a woman to do the vacuuming. But if you wish to keep her at the kitchen sink, you’ll need some ‘hoovering‘ skills of your own. These are a set of tactics designed to suck a target back into an abusive relationship.Finely-honed hoovering skills will be enormously useful when your partner makes a bid to shake you off – or, unbelievably, actually leaves you.

To successfully hoover, you need to leave your shame and compassion at the door. Mere mortals may find this difficult, but don’t worry: as an abuser this comes naturally to you.

SAMPLE HOOVERING CAMPAIGN

A tough-looking hoover (photo by earl53)

A tough-looking hoover (photo by earl53)

Phase One: Diffuse and deflect

This phase of the hoovering campaign may mean you have to bite down some of your pride. You’ll have to simulate repentance and remorse, whilst dodging responsibility.

Apologise for your abusive behaviour, without actually meaning it. Insert excuses. After all, it is her fault that you act the way you do. If she weren’t so dumb you wouldn’t need to keep her in line. When embarking on Diffuse and Deflect, keep in mind that she is blowing this all out of proportion, and with a few small changes in her behaviour, she can easily put it right.

Ensure she knows that she is incapable of surviving without you – your careful conditioning of her throughout the relationship will be helpful here. However, if she resists, proceed immediately to phase two.

Phase Two: Love-bomb

The bombardment phase is not for the easily discouraged. The point is to remind her how wonderful you are, and how much she needs you. You’ll have to swallow your anger, for a while, and tell her some nice things. Think about what you did to make her fall in love with you. Put on your Prince Charming mask once more.

Note and emulate this lego-man's determined expression (photo by pasukaru76)

Note and emulate this lego-man’s determined expression (photo by pasukaru76)

Call continually. Send text messages full of loving demands. Don’t forget to insert excuses and dodge responsibility. Insist that you don’t understand what is the problem, but you have seen the light and changed your life. You won’t do it again. You love her – yes, really!

If this doesn’t work, try some grander gestures. This may mean spending some money or a little time, but the possible return-on-investment is worth it. Try having flowers sent to her home. Bring her lunch at the office. Call at 3am “just because I miss you”. Email her adorable snapshots from early in your romance.

If your stubborn target proves resilient against your love-bombing – perhaps by maintaining No Contact – hop right into phase three.

Phase three: Emotional blackmail

You’ll have to gird your loins (metaphorically speaking) for the emotional blackmail phase in the strategy. Dynamic and dramatic action requires a serious amount of forward-planning and self-abasement. To gear yourself up, tap into the depths of your rage that this woman has actually left you. How dare she! After all you have done for her! Everything you gave up for her sake! Got it? Good.

Turn up on her doorstep, preferably drunk or on drugs. Insist she returns, immediately. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer – the word doesn’t exist in your vocabulary, right? Also, remember not to consider her needs here – it is all about you.

Accusatory finger-pointing in action (Photo by a2gemma)

Accusatory finger-pointing in action (Photo by a2gemma)

Stress that your life is falling apart without her. Try telling her you’re about to be evicted, you’ve been fired, or your dog is sick. Pity often works wonders. Bonus tip: wearing clothes two sizes too big and not shaving for a few days will help her realise how her selfishness is negatively impacting you.

Remind her that she is ruining your child’s life. Minimise the abuse – after all, it is her fault because she doesn’t understand how much pressure you are under. She is the only one who can save you. Get your mother or a mutual friend to tell her just how badly you are doing – drinking too much, battling with depression, acting out. They’ll be pleased to help if it potentially gets you out of their hair!

Threats can be effective. Try threatening to harm her or the children – or the family pet. Tell her that you’ll make her name mud in this town. You’ll get her fired. You’ll convince child protection that she’s an unfit mother. If all else fails, try threatening suicide: this is a particularly effective tactic because your target likely still believes herself in love with you. Thank you, trauma-bond!

Ground Zero: the ‘hoover-proof target’

Should your target prove to be unmoved by the first three phases of your diligent hoovering campaign, do not give up. Begin operation Ground Zero. It takes time and willpower, but there is a last resort that may still convince your target to return.

Hoover Squircle by Clearly Ambiguous

Hoover Squircle by Clearly Ambiguous

Smarten yourself up. Get a haircut. Go to the gym. Buy a new car, get a new apartment. If you can, persuade another woman to be your girlfriend (this has the added bonus of providing built-in narcissistic supply). Take every opportunity to showcase your transformation to your target – she needs to see you are once again the functional human being that she fell in love with.

It’s important that you pick out things which your target once wanted for you – then go ahead and make it happen. For example, if she tried to help you quit drinking, enrol in a programme now. You don’t actually need to get sober for this tactic to be effective – this is about showing her what change you are capable of, if you really want to. Which you probably don’t.

If your target has come running back, begging to be forgiven – congratulations. You win this exclusive Hoover Manoeuvre badge, whilst she gets to enjoy more abusive misery. If she hasn’t, then chances are you’ll have to write this one off (or take ill-advised step of becoming a stalker). But don’t worry, there’s plenty more fish in the sea just waiting to be hooked by an experienced predator like you.

> Have you been on the receiving end of a determined hoovering campaign? What were the most powerful tactics? How did you respond?

ALSO SEE: Find out how to make a permanent exit from your abuser’s life in Staying out of an abusive relationship: An essential To Do list.

© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14
https://avalancheofthesoul.wordpress.com

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55 responses to “How to execute the perfect ‘hoover manoeuvre’

    • Haha! I scoff at this article and sick people that deploy these tactics… Here is the deal, covert narcissists- Some of us (empaths) are stronger than any narcissists. We are not blood sucking leeches that need narc. supply to live. So when you deploy the last phase basically “the discard” some of us wait. We wait patiently, heal our pain and better our lives with the rich knowledge learned from vampire narcissists. We know that you (narcissist) will hoover… Go ahead because I for one can not wait to shut that junk down. If I don’t hear from my ex narcissist, it’s a win! If I do hear from my ex, shut down and laughter, a better win! The main lesson is some of Narcissist’s former supply grows stronger and we know your game now. Best thing to do is just stay a ghost, and run your sick sad hussle on some unsuspecting beta. Narcissists, are sad, soulless, heartless, vampires that age like a mere mortal. lol

      Like

  1. My ex abuser used all of these tactics except where kids are concerned as my son was grown and gone by the time I left. It came in identical stages, too. Thankfully, I was able to resist and after changing my phone number, email addresses, deleting my blogs, moving 70 miles away and blocking him from all social media sites I’m finally narc free 🙂

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    • Congratulations on your narc-free status, Sofia. I’m tempted to create a badge for you too! Seriously, you went through a lot to get where you are – so kudos to you.

      What’s funny (odd and ha-ha) is that abusers are rarely as original and uncontrolled as they want us to believe. Like their abusive actions, their hoovering tactics are also part of the same formulaic strategy – they are calculated and cold, even when they do their best to convince us otherwise.

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      • I was truly shocked by two things when the FOG finally cleared: 1) there are a lot of us out there, trying to come to grips with reality as opposed to the shit sandwhich we’re fed by our abusers and 2) that they all follow the same script! Not a day went by that my abusers didn’t loudly proclaim their superiority over all other life forms, how very special they were, how it was my duty as a lesser being to cater to them, and then I discovered that they all think that way! Boggles the mind!

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      • Wish I could ‘like’ your comment, Facebook style! Absolutely right. Just wish they all could see how unoriginal they are – but an abuser is incapable of any form of self-analysis. Far easier to hold tight to their own warped worldview and think that the rest of us have it wrong.

        Like

  2. Reblogged this on I Won't Take It and commented:
    Here’s another illustration that refutes the narrative narcs and their ilk constantly spout about how “special” or “superior” they are – they all follow the very same playbook and my ex was no exception. You would think that such an exclusive club would at least have some variety in its membership!

    Like

  3. Holy crap…are all our stories the same? I thought I was going crazy when this was all happening 3 years ago…I keep finding stories that are so similar to mine…

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    • Unfortunately, though many abusive men think they are unique and special, often they are just following the same twisted textbook 😉

      The worst thing is that it makes us feel so isolated, like we are the only people in the world going through it. But when we start reaching out, we realise that there are many, many others like us. It was a big comfort to me when I started digging out of the avalanche of abuse. I hope it helps you too!

      Like

      • Yes, while at times quite overwhelming, it’s been very very freeing to “shed” the layers, and educate myself…thank you yes indeed very helpful…they are indeed “textbook” aren’t. they…

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  4. OMG! 20 years with this man, trying for the 4th time to leave, and I just happened upon this funny, yet sadly, accurate portrayal of the roller coaster life I have lived! I pray this time I make it out, as I am easily hoovered right back in. I hate “hurting” another human being, regardless of the torture I have endured, and he knows this. Thank you for helping me open my eyes to this highly effective, yet unoriginal tactic that every abuser uses to suck the victim right back in. Cross your fingers, and send good thoughts my way as I try to get out of this toxic relationship once and for all!

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    • Angie

      Congratulations on having the strength to know you must leave, and the self-awareness to research what you need to do to get out and stay out.

      The main thing I would like to tell you is please do not be disheartened because you were hoovered previously. It took me several attempts before I was able to successfully avoid being sucked back in, and by then I sometimes felt that I’d never be able to do it. But I did, and you can too.

      You’re not hurting him. You’re saving yourself. He may act hurt, but please believe me when I say that this ‘hurt’ is shallow and designed to make you feel sorry for him, and so that you go back to him. It’s just a tactic. *He* is the one inflicting hurt – not you.

      You are in my thoughts as you move forward in your journey. Please do let us know how you get on.

      Like

    • I believe this will help you with your “hating to hurt another human being”… please read “Codependent No More” by Melody Beattie. I firmly believe that this bring that roller coaster ride to a complete halt. The other great read that will break down the abuser’s tactics etc is “Inside the Minds of Abusive and Angry Men” by Lundy Bancroft…Holy cow will you feel you mind stretch and expand in ways you never imagined. These two books combined….watch as literally you cannot even make yourself give to hoots about the abusers or their tactics. The science, the logic and the chemical reactions of of the emotions will truly empower you in ways I cannot truly describe other than to simply say it’s MAGICAL! 🙂 Sending you well deserved peace, harmony, and self-empowerment. Sincerely, Lisa Marie

      Like

  5. You know me, I am laughing but not at you. I love the “preferably drunk or on drugs” part. To answer your question, the hovering campaign never ends on their part, ever. So what do I recommend? A restraining order and no contact and a complete cutting of the emotional and spiritual cord that was forged under false pretenses helped by education and awareness of the patterns of disordered individuals who will not, no matter the stakes, help themselves or accept a path of change.

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    • Great advice betternotbroken. No contact, whatever it takes to establish and maintain it, is so important. You’re right to point out that abusive people do not change, so leaving the door open to them is leaving ourselves open to more pain. Thank you for sharing your insight!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I put up with 4 years of this BS and I’ve just now been able to shut the door for good … He’s in full stage “Hoover-Love Bombing” right now (again) and it’s so pathetic and fake I can’t even stand to be in the same room with him anymore. It really helps you to go full No Contact when you can’t even stand to look at him anymore. I am completely ignoring his every attempt to contact me me and I won’t waver.. He’ll give up eventually ( I HOPE!) I hope you all can reach this stage at some point too!… This is my 5th “escape” from this crazy evil man, and I know this time is the last.. Good luck to all of you!… Stay strong, and kick that evil bastard to the curb!

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    • Hi Jen, I’m sorry you’re going through this… however, well done on your clarity of vision that you can see through his shallow tactics. No Contact is great advice (and indeed is the only thing that worked for me) – thank you for sharing, and good luck 🙂

      Like

  7. I’ve been parted from mine over a year! He tried all of these phases! Interesting he’s got a new victim and has started sending me random crap in text messages! I wish I could have complete no contact but have 2 children with it! He uses my daughter to relay things back to me which is hard to ignore but I do! I hope in time he stops and leaves me alone! I’m interesting in the point about become a stalker, do they really do this! In my early years he dumped me and during the 4 mths in which he disgarded me I met a new guy, he them turns up again and I had to ask him to basically go away as I’d met someone else! This lasted 3 yrs and when this relationship ended with 3 wks I recieved a letter from the ex saying hi haven’t seen you in years fancy meeting up, coincidence or was I secretly stalked for 3 yrs??

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    • This sounds like classic narcissistic hoovering to me, he has a new partner but is trying to secure a side-supply (you!). He will move on when he eventually realises that you won’t tolerate it. I’ve no idea about the stalking, but it would not be unusual for this type of person to keep tabs on their ex to watch for an opportunity to suck you back in. Tread carefully, forewarned is forearmed! 🙂

      Like

      • Narcissists need supply like they need oxygen. As much as they can get, from whoever they are able to extract it from. That’s why they are typically prolific cheaters and ‘users’ when in a relationship.

        Like

  8. This almost word for word describes my experience. It’s in the last stage , and while I know I am out , something inside confirms that , it’s been a long haul ride to recovery. You have to keep going as getting sucked back in , just makes it longer and more painful, which unfortunately I did around the stage 1-2. This time I’m out , but I know from so many , you need to find every bit of inner strength to get round that corner to the home straight . Thankyou , this is so insightful 🙂

    Like

    • Hi g

      So pleased for you that you’re out. I got sucked back in a couple of times too, so I wholeheartedly agree with your advice to dig deep and keep going. Hard as it is, it does get easier – and life on the outside is so much sweeter! 🙂

      Like

  9. Pingback: Aware of the mask | Enliven·

  10. Thank you for this. Thank you very much. I feel so dumb sometimes… As I was reading I kept remembering some of the stuff he told me, ‘You read those stupid feminist websites and always come back suspicious of me’; ‘The problem is that you stopped trusting me’. etc.

    I want to believe he really is going to change, but then I am remembered what a manipulative, violent piece of shit he is.

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    • You’re very welcome, I hope the article helped you.

      Much kudos to you for refusing to be manipulated. Of course, he’ll blame you or the websites or anything else he can think of rather than take responsibility for his own actions.

      You’re worth much more than that, and I’m so pleased you know it 🙂

      Like

  11. Thank you for your post, it was really helpful. I just got away from my partner for maybe the 5th time in two years. But this is the last time, I will never go back again. Somebody wrote here that reading this article made them laugh out, for me it was completely different: I got angry, very angry with myself. How could I let this happen? How It is possible that I didn’t recognise the signs? everything that you wrote in this article is true, a complete match, even down to the last one, where he went to see a pchicologist (he doesn’t have problems with alcohol, but for a very long time I insisted -for his sake- to talk about some issues with a professional. He left therapy afte 5-6 sessions, insisting on being cured.When I left the other day I said some very angry things (like “I hope one day you will get back the suffering you gave me’) and now he sends messages saying that I cursed him, and it worked because his sister is in hospital! So he makes it my fault! I can’t belive it!. I am off to my provider to change my number.
    Thank you for your page it helped me to see clear.

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    • I’m so pleased the article helped, and huge kudos to you for refusing to allow him to be in your life anymore. You’re reclaiming your life, despite his desperate attempts to blackmail you into remaining with him. The tactics you describe are so classic. You deserve so much more and you’re on track to better things 🙂

      Like

  12. I’ve been discarded for about 4 years now and I’ve not experienced hoovering/love bombing – not once. He has a skank who used to call herself my best friend and I think she’s an even bigger N than him and is calling ALL the shots in the relationship. When/if that ever implodes (and I hope to God it does!), I’m sure the hoovering/love bombing will start – maybe from both of them. **puke**

    Like

  13. This rings so true that it’s almost funny. These tactics are like a predictable dance. Once you recognize the “pattern” you can almost guess what will happen next. My daughter married a covert narcissist 12 years ago & we have all suffered from his nonsense ever since. Thankfully she has been with us for the past 3 years. Without his constant presence & monitoring & isolation tactics, she can now see very clearly what’s been happening.
    Keep up the good work. Education is the key to establishing healthy boundaries.

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  14. My ex SO did all of this…except the last. He hoovered first, all sweet, understanding, loving and supportive. When that would not bring me back…bring on the emotional blackmail. When that did not work….bring on the rage and threats, trying to control me with fear. I finally decided I would rather face my fear of his vindictiveness rather then deal with him one more day…so I blocked him. It has been a year…a year of peace. I think they truly don’t get it when they can’t manipulate you anymore, and just play victim to abdicate any responsibility for why you left them for good…

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    • You’re so right Roxanne. I firmly believe that both my abusive exs imagine themselves the victim – they certainly tried their hardest to convince me that was the case. Anything rather than accept they were the problem, because then they may actually have to do something about it! So glad you’ve achieved a year of peace, it’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it?

      Like

  15. This is happening he’s telling me how could I abondond him, he loved me I’m all he wants in life. he has already cut him self numerous times and now taking pills. he countinously talks about my past relationship before him . How could I do this to him? He says I feel I have to lie to him so he won’t cut himself, kiss him and ENJOY it. then he asks why don’t you like it ?why can’t you love me? OMG I feel so bad but I don’t know what else to do. my kids will hate me because their dad loved me and I didn’t so it resulted in his suicide .

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  16. I went through all of this, more times than I can count as embarrassing as that is. I’m 4.5 months into no contact besides defending myself one time when he emailed me to call me a “whore” and claimed I cheated on him. Lol. I’ve shut down all social media, got a new phone number, moved twice, and will continue to do whatever I have to do to keep him out of my life. The sad thing is that Nikki matter how much time has passed, they always reserve the right to come back and start the process all over again. He’s determined to ruin my reputation, bashing me on social media almost daily, but it’s worth losing the few people that believe his lies just to be free.I’ve learned that there’s more than six billion people in this world, I no longer care what a few people think about me and am thankful that I went through this because it made me address my own Codependency issues. This article is awesome! I hope anyone involved with someone like this gets free.

    Like

  17. Oh gosh, I never realised this was an actual thing! I’ve just been hoovered! I left my abuser on Monday, cleared out my stuff on Tuesday, maintained radio silence all week. He got his mother to ring me on Friday to ask if she could have the kids for an hour or two on Saturday. He kidnapped the kids from her house, loaded them up with mothers day presents for me, and sent them on their way. I foolishly decided to text him to tell him thank-you for remembering mothers day. Next thing he rings me and asks me and the kids out for dinner (but he hasn’t booked a table), so would I like to come over to his and he will make me a mothers day dinner. I decided to go, not for the dinner, but so I could tell him why it was over (I’d just left, hadn’t explained myself). Get there, but by the time I arrive, he’s remembered he can’t cook, or shop. So I have to go and buy the food myself, and then cook it. He’s obviously still struggling with the new me effort still, because he moans that I hadn’t bought beef, and he wanted beef. I tell him I’ve not got long because I am going to my friends house later. What friend? Oh, that fat cunt! Why are you going to see her? I thought you hated her?
    No dear, it’s you who hates her, because you think we are having an affair, after you snooped through my phone and found that I always put xxx at the end of my messages to her. Well, I wouldn’t have to look at your phone if you didn’t lie to me. *eyes rolling*.
    Anyway, he manages to reign it in a bit, long enough for me to blurt out that I can’t take the abuse any more, so that’s why I left him.
    But I’m under so much pressure, every thing is going wrong in my life, that’s why I am like I am. I don’t realise what I’m like!
    Yeah? For the past 10 years?
    Anyway, it’s not like I ever really hurt you! I only grabbed you round the throat!
    Hmmm… on that occasion but it’s not an isolated incident, is it dear? Anyway, can you imagine what it’s like being me! I don’t even like myself! I don’t want to be this way! I need help! Please help me! Come with me to the Drs, please, get me help! I don’t know that I’m hurting you, I need someone who is an expert on not being a cunt to tell how not to be a cunt.
    OK, I’ll see if I can find out about any programmes that might help you. Now I’m going.
    I’ll look after the dog for you. Whilst you’re at your friends. I’ll take him to the pub the watch the football. You can pick him up on your way home.
    OK, take the dog to the pub.
    I drop him and dog off at pub, he kisses the kids, and makes a tentative kiss move in my direction.
    I see friend. I go to fetch my dog.
    So I’ll see you tomorrow then? You are bringing the kids round for tea aren’t you?
    I’ve rehearsed this line all the way home.
    No. I am not coming for tea tomorrow.
    When then? When are you coming?…

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  18. Being hoovered as I type this. He has already done new girl, new car, now he is destroying my character to his family (that I love) I don’t get why they go to such great lengths when it is so much easier to go find someone that makes them truly happy.

    Like

  19. Oh my God. Ground Zero. F’king Ground Zero. I didn’t know that one. I’ve ridden out the rest gawd knows how many times, but that… oh my god. I’m raging. Literally shaking.

    Like

  20. oh LORD have mercy!!!! I laughed &laughed !!! ty this slaughtered me! 😊👏🏻….hes such a sad clown…1 yr 2 months since final discard….hoovered 10+ times … every time I tell myself you’re not responding 3, 4 days go by and I can’t stand it and I have to respond usually in a negative way then extremely sorry & apologize for my behavior and then silence …..when the fuck am I ever going to get it? these motherfuckers are monsters it’s been 1 month since the last Hoover I still can’t bring myself to block him because I’m waiting for the next Hoover …so I can prove to myself that he wants to contact me how fucking retarded is that ?….this was so spot on thank you thank you thank you I laughed and laughed and laughed until I almost pissed my pants…..bottom line no contact!!! ladies and gents…trust me it’s been one year two months since final discard Hoover Here Hoover there…that song remains the same …they are fucked up disordered people…. stay strong no contact EVER!!!…..I pray every day I won’t remember him

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  21. Wow…my mother-N-law has employed most of these tactics, in this exact order. It has been 5 years since we went NC with the “N-laws,” and her latest tactic is to advertise how they’ve moved on and their life is complete and “blessed” without us in it–“No more sadness!” they say. …Except that she just created her 7th Facebook profile in order to spy on us. SMH. Thank you for this. Well done!

    Like

  22. “I was just thinking about you’
    “I miss you”
    “It was differentbwith you’ (has new supply)
    “Hope you have a good time, I’m having my heart operation soon’
    “I’m disappointed, I thought you were better than this” (no contact)
    “I was so happy with you” (old photo)
    “I’d like to meet for a drink as platonic friends’
    “You look great”
    “I’ve got a new house”
    “I’m in such a mess” (new supply issues)
    “I heard our song” (we didn’t have one)
    “I’d really like to explain”
    “I’m sorry I forgot you” (after a rage, new supply)
    “It wasn’t like you think’
    This rubbish has been going on for 3 years.

    Like

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