The Cost of Coping: Compulsive Compliance, Anticipatory Acts & Betrayal Blindness

Part of coping with early and prolonged polyvictimization was to assume the best and ignore the worst. I coped this way for so long that what @jjfreydcourage coined betrayal blindness became part of my nature. It has many labels: naivety; doublethink; Pollyanna personality.

I was one of the nicest, most tolerant, patient, empathic, giving people I have ever met. I would blindly ignore my own abuse, assuming that I was the etiology of my own evisceration.

There is absolutely no logical or psychological reason I would even consider contemplating another alternative — compulsive compliance was how I survived.

My main mode of coping was hypervigilance of powerful others and anticipatory acts (avoidance, or acts of service). This early and ingrained pattern of coping made me an exemplary student, service provider, and the perfect prey for powerful persuasive predators.

Compulsive compliance, anticipatory acts, and betrayal blindness were phrases I had not heard until I was in graduate school after repeated revictimization. Seeing is part of the solution. I am now woke to the betrayal that has formed me, fashioned me and followed me.

Compulsive compliance manifested itself in small and catastrophic ways. It was absurdly difficult for me to have a stated need. I was a woman of deference. I was easily led to slaughter and when I came to faith — submission, self sacrifice, and self effacement fit like a glove.

Anticipatory acts of service was a form of compulsive appeasement. It was a survival mechanism not a choice. Hypervigilance ensured that I understood what was expected and my conduct would align with the expectation — spoken or implied.

I leaned early and well that when an authority figure asked for something I was to comply or die. I never forgot that lesson and it informed every #churchtoo #metoo #trauma. Mix that in with the desperate need for acceptance and you have a recipe for repeated revictimization.

You can be smart as a whip, witty, pretty, personable, and preyed upon — repeatedly. Your task now is to know the open doors of your vulnerability and do the hard work of closing them in the face of predators. Eventually they will pass by because they see a wall not a door.


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