The Public Complicity Trick
One of the means of control my father used in his abuse (of my mother, my sisters, and me) was what I have come to think of as the “Public Complicity Trick.”
I’m going to describe this trick from my childhood, though I am a man now and it happened decades ago, because I need to speak about how I’ve seen what seems to be a similar effort recently from a man who I once thought of as a friend. This person chose to call into the podcast of a prominent national celebrity to enter the public sphere of discussion about cancel culture. I won’t repeat the details of his call; Allison Morse has outlined that story.
When I was young, my family would sometimes be out somewhere in the community, and my father would launch into one of his Big Lies. He would tell a friend about some great thing he had accomplished in his younger days—being a champion boxer in the military; or he would tell the head of the small-town Nebraska volunteer fire department that he had saved three people from a fire while serving as a volunteer during one of our cyclic moves between Texas (where he was from) and Nebraska (where my mother was from); or he would tell some new acquaintance from the evangelical church about a vision he claimed had helped him kick drugs and booze. (That brings back my memory of finding his jar of black capsules of some drug—not a prescription—in the kitchen cabinet when I was about 10. I carefully opened each capsule, dumped the powder down the drain, and closed the empty capsules to return them to the jar.)