Sometimes just the manipulator speaking with apparent conviction can invite the overly conscientious person to doubt themselves. And often, manipulators “bundle” tactics together, giving vague, misleading, half-answers, distracting, minimizing and rationalizing... they might pull out a “trump card” like playing the victim, leaving the real victim feeling not only unjustified but guilty for taking a stand.

The bottom line is that such tactics work because the victim has a certain level of conscientiousness. The victim is usually not willing to make harsh judgments in the absence of clear, convincing, objective evidence. They don’t trust their gut, and as a result, they get taken in.

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Dr. George Simon reminds us that victims of covert predators can get easily taken in due to their level of conscientiousness. Since targets of such predators want to ensure they aren't jumping to conclusions, they will usually discount their own gut instincts about manipulative people, especially when these toxic types offer counternarratives for their behavior. In response, victims will instead start to minimize, rationalize or even blame themselves when an abusive incident occurs. This is dangerous because when we strive to absolve someone of the consequences of their actions, we can fall prey to their gaslighting and invalidation at the expense of our own safety.