This week we want to share more about the Persecutor role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™.   

To the Victim, the Persecutor is the “problem” that they are reacting to. It could be a person or circumstance.  A health condition, for example, is often seen as a Persecutor.  In this essay we are describing the Persecutor as a person.

When a person is acting from the Persecuting role, they use control and domination to manage the situation.  How this control and domination shows up can be very different.  That’s why we call it the “many faces of the Persecutor.”

It is important to remember that we all play, from time to time, all three of the DDT roles.  As you read this essay, notice when the descriptions of the Persecutor may apply to you.  It is easy to see the persecuting traits in others but we are not as willing to see them in ourselves.

The Persecutor in you may show up when:

  • Accomplishment, achievement and getting things done efficiently —– your way —- is your primary focus;
  • A feeling that your personal survival and self-worth is at stake; or
  • You believe the world is made up of winners and losers.

The Persecutor role in you represents the “fighter” in the fight-or-flight mechanism.  You may use control and dominance to:

  • Control the situation, or show that you are the only one with the right answer;
  • Reduce your fear of trusting others or the process;
  • Look good by winning; or
  • Manage your fear of uncertainty.

Here are just a few examples of the “faces” of the Persecutor that we have observed.

The Sergeant—Micromanages with a “my way or the highway” mentality.  Uses control by pulling rank or blames others to get their way.  Co-workers fear making mistakes and stop thinking for themselves.  Opportunities for innovation or new ideas from co-workers are severely limited for fear they will run head-on into the Sergeant’s strong opinion or right and wrong thinking.

The “Jerk”—-Uses their cranky and disapproving mood to control the family or work environment.   Others walk on egg shells to avoid setting them off.  May use toxic humor or make cynical remarks.  Control is gained because others get triggered and pay attention to their crankiness.

The Silent One—Uses silence and aloofness to control and punishment.  Withdraws and cuts off interaction as a way to control the situation and other people.   This creates powerlessness in others as they try to figure how to react to the “silent treatment.”

The Charmer—May use their personality to schmooze and win influence and access to power.  Their motivation is questionable and may work hidden agendas.   Acts as the “trickster” by covertly working their program.  Befriends those who serve their agenda, and shuns those who don’t, which creates mistrust.

Most people possess some of these Persecuting faces from time to time.  By becoming more familiar with these roles, hopefully you can catch yourself and shift to more constructive ways of relating.

The positive alternative to the Persecutor in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ™ is the Challenger.  To support the shift from Persecutor to Challenger ask yourself:

  • What is my intention in this situation? Is it to tear others down and be “one up” and take control?
  • Or, is it to build up and help support and improve the situation?

Persecutors seek to dominate.  Challengers work from a “learning intent” for growth and progress.

Whatever “face” you take-on when you slip into the Persecutor role, learn to observe your behavior.  Then pause, reflect upon your intention, and choose to focus on what there is to learn —- for yourself and the other.