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
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.
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.
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.
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