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The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings and 3 Links Between Sexual Assault, Narcissism and the “Cult of Masculinity”

kavanaugh photoThe entire world witnessed, if they watched the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings closely, how the “boys will be boys club” works strategically to legitimize inexcusable acts of sexual assault against women — which in the club’s view, is an entitlement of those in positions of authority, in general.

The pattern is always the same. She reveals sexual assault happened; takes a lie detector test. Under oath, he denies and plays victim. No thorough investigation of him follows, only limited? And no lie detector test for him? Instead, smearing and outrage against the victim and supporters follows, to suppress evidence?

Even worse, men and boys were put on alert that “false accusations” by women now pose a threat to them. Untrue. Decades of evidence prove this, such a rare occurrence, should to be regarded an exception. Even worse, however, these statements are dangerous, literally hate propaganda, with the power to incite men to further act violently. Political leaders must know this false alarm is irresponsible, right?

The title itself of an article in The Guardian says it all: Sexual Violence Against Women is the Result of the Cult of Masculinity.

If anything, the hearings have exposed a serious social problem. Our culture socializes men and boys, as a group, to look down on, treat and think of women (children, nonwhites, poor etc.) as less than human, as objects for men’s pleasure.

For this, the real and main culprit is the cult’s supremacist beliefs, for which men and boys cannot be (totally) blamed. Of course not. They too have been duped to think that to assault the weak proves they are “real” men, and that they will get away with it, as a protected entitlement of those in authority positions.

We all know the pattern, however, and that we deny it indicates the extent we have all been conned to turn our heads, to think this “boys will be boys” stuff is normal. It’s not. It’s damaging to women and to men alike, young and old, regardless of political and religious beliefs.

In online discussions, the pattern is known as gaslighting. In studies of sexual assault, psychologist Dr. Jennifer Freyd labeled the pattern D.A.R.V.O.: “Deny. Attack. Reverse Victim and Offender.”  

What’s on trial at the hearings is not a she-says-he-says competition, a media-orchestrated DARVO side show, another smokescreen to hide the truth and exhaust concerned onlookers.

And despite the drama at the hearings, no one put Judge Kavanaugh on trial as a criminal. And his life will not be “destroyed” just because he doesn’t get the job. (If anything, it will be because he lied under oath.) And the fact that he may need to deal with the truth of inexcusable acts of violence against girls in high school, and women in college, can be a growth opportunity for him and his family, if he chooses this focus.

What’s really on trial at the hearings is this pattern of telling lies that men (mostly) employ automatically to get away with wrongdoings and simultaneously make women and their supporters feel crazy and at fault, hoping they surrender at some point out of exhaustion.

As citizens of this beautiful country, in the last couple of years, we’ve experienced an out of control barrage of lie-telling by persons in positions of top leadership. It’s DARVO, DARVO everywhere.

What should be on trial is how automatically the public is DARVO-ed, when a club member, most always male, is held accountable for wrongful acts against women (a pattern that is also used for acts violence against children, certain men, nonwhites, gays and other vulnerable populations).

It’s a pattern in schools, but also in couple relationships. In families. In universities. In athletics. In sororities. In camps, religious and secular. Last but not least, in churches (not just the Catholic church).

Safe to say, the hearings were a dramatic display of DARVO at work. As we witnessed, the focus overall remained on “prosecuting” Dr. Christine on the one hand (in truth, for breaking “the code of silence”!), while on the other hand, simultaneously portraying Judge Kavanaugh as the “real” victim (in truth, because he has to endure the discomfort of not having automatic impunity as a man to sexually assault and deny, when a woman “squeals”?).

It must also be said, women and girls are not the only victims of sexual assault. Boys and men are also assaulted, in far greater number than they admit (likely due to the “code of silence” itself).

A hidden or downplayed fact however which is critical to emphasize is that: The vast majority of all acts of sexual assault, domestic violence, rape, mass shootings, child sexual abuse, and so on, are committed by men.

There’s nothing wrong with our most loved men and boys however at least not biologically! It’s the supremacist value system of “the cult” that terrorizes them to put on a false-self identify to prove they are not human.

Actor and former NFL player, Terry Crews speaks out against the damaging effects of “the Cult of Masculinity.”

After experiencing a DARVO reaction himself, when he broke the “code of silence” to reveal he had been sexually assaulted by an agent in the film industry, Crews now regularly speaks at gatherings to inform the public of the dangers of “the cult” that once groomed him. In his words:

“Growing up…asking friends how to talk to a girl … I was told to lie to her, to keep her off-balance. Having “game” was all about manipulating girls, getting them to give you sex, then tossing them aside. As a man, you’re also taught to keep your girl in check, to maintain control. But you cannot control someone and love them at the same time. You only control things that are beneath you.”

“I was a card-carrying member of the cult of masculinity. I and other young men in my community watched our mothers and sisters be abused, which taught us that we were worth more than the women in our lives.”

The cult’s fear-based beliefs are damaging in that they condition many men from boyhood to suppress empathy, and other vulnerable emotions, key in the formation of healthy relationships with self and other. As a result, though most men do not sexually assault women, many men (and some women) learn to think of emotions of empathy and caring — and the persons associated with them (women, etc.) — as weak, inferior, dangerous and emasculating to men, and thus, to feel hatred and rage and fear, and thus reject and deny and eliminate and attack.

Let’s connect the dots, noting how this pattern inextricably links 3 traumatizing forces — sexual assault, narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders and “the cult of masculinity” — that, arguably, are responsible for a  predictable pattern of lies and illusions, methodically used to promote violence and shift blame for wrongdoing onto victims.

1. DARVO is a key pattern used by all pathological abusers.

Most if not all pathological abusers*** exhibit a consistent pattern of lies and denial that seeks to normalize violence, deny wrongdoing on their part, and shift blame onto the victim, attack the victim’s character, mental stability, and so on, in attempt to get others to side against the victim, while simultaneously portraying themselves as the “real” victim to gain sympathy.

It’s the same pattern. It’s repeated again, and again, by all pathological abusers, varying only in degree. Domestic violence. Rape. Sexual assault. Child abuse. And in some divorce cases or custody disputes (where pathological abuse*** pre-exists).

The list goes on to include narcissistic abuse, the effects of which are conceivably worse than physical violence. Narcissistic abuse is distinct from “emotional abuse” in that the victim is traumatized to the extent they not only present with PTSD symptoms — but also develop a severe survival-love strategy, known as narcissistic abuse syndrome or Stockholm syndrome (a form of psychological slavery) in which the victim, to survive, surrenders to idolize and supports the abuser’s goals (against their own interests), and too often, turns against family and friends that love and support them.

Narcissistic abuse is rooted in scientifically proven methods of thought-control, which explain the “puzzling” and extreme behaviors of victims, and why certain vulnerable persons (empaths, codependent women, etc.) get trapped in cult groups, whether religious and secular.

To resolve issues of violence and abuse, we must remain aware and awake of how this pattern of lies is employed, to slowly and imperceptibly “normalize” and thus legitimize assault (primarily) by “men” and others in “authority” positions, i.e., police, parents, etc., as an entitlement associated with status, and so on. The maintenance of status quo adversarial divisions between men and women, white and nonwhites, rich and poor, and so on, is regarded critical by “the cult” to keep supremacists in power.

The public needs to express outrage at more recent efforts, by cult members with financial means, to legitimize candidates for office with known backgrounds or allegations of sexually molesting children.

Persons in positions of power should be held to the same standards to obey the law. Child sexual abuse is a crime. Those who seek to run in local and national elections are sworn to protect the laws of this country, and no candidate with such a background should have the audacity to run, much less to expect the widespread support of White evangelicals.

(Sexual molestation of children is also a pathology. Ideally, persons who abuse children need long term psychological support to heal and restorative justice; jail time and punitive justice may make sense, but in most cases it further harms the family, spouse, children, etc., and keeps child sexual abuse alive and hidden.)

DARVO lies work; it’s scientifically proven. Only 2 to 6% of cases of rape and sexual assault of women are prosecuted for example. Would it be okay if only 2 to 6% of murders were prosecuted?

Sexually assault against women (or men) is not normal. It is a crime of a person with a character pathology: antisocial personality disorder.

Sexual abuse of children is not normal, and perpetuates the cycle and risk of abuse in adulthood.

It is reasonable to demand an end to the trend of protecting (mostly white) men accused of violence against women, as well as an end to allowing persons to run or serve in office when several accusations of sexually molesting children surface.

First and foremost, it’s reasonable to demand an end to the pathological use of science-based lies (thought-control methods), as an entitlement of those in authority positions. It’s reasonable to expect all persons, men in authority positions too, to tell the truth under oath. This phenomenon can only occur as a result of organized efforts of those with financial means to employ thought-control methods, scientifically known to cripple the otherwise amazing abilities of the human brains for reflective thinking and common sense. Let’s not blame the Russians, likely another smokescreen; let’s hold our leaders accountable.

The use of methods to cripple the public mind in civilian settings to the extent that violence against women (and children, and others) is normalized needs to be regarded as a criminal act.

2. DARVO is a key trait of persons who meet the diagnostic criteria in the DSM for one of two character disorders: antisocial personality disorder (APD) and, or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Refusing to own wrongs and shift blame onto a victim is a key trait and relational pattern of persons with APD and, or NPD. Unlike other mental or character disorders listed in the DSM, APDs and NPDs pose risks for harm to othersThese two character disorders lie on a continuum based on the extent of harm they intentionally seek to enact, but share four key traits:

(1) deception, repeated lying, conning others for own gain forms a core false-self identity as superior over certain others;

(2) lack of empathy, overall disregard for the feelings or hurt they cause, deriving pleasure from hurting others;

(3) feelings of scorn and a sense of entitlement over others, regarding them objects for own pleasure and comfort.

It’s important to recognize that narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders are disturbances that cripple vital ways the mind and heart and body are designed to work together. This is because high levels of fear activate the survival response of the body, and the release of high levels of cortisol, puts the higher cortex offline (the reflective thinking area of the brain shuts down when survival reaction occurs).

The false-self of the NPD and APD is formed as a result of this high exposure to levels of cortisol produced by intense fear, in combination with rewards of ruling over others as “superior” and so on. The indoctrination of boys into the “cult of masculinity” itself is wounding, when a boy witnesses and experiences the treatment of women by misogynist men; and also throughout his life when he is shamed for exhibiting any human (not female) traits of warmth, caring, need for emotional connection. Out of fear, boys as a group are forced to make a false-choice dilemma, that is, to anxiously prove they are “real men” in order to avoid the alternative of not existing as a man! (And being a woman means, based on “the cult,” that you’ll be used by men as a powerless object of pleasure, and so on.)

A false choice is a false dilemma, a claim based on a logical fallacy or false reasoning — a lie — that only two choices exist, either you’re a “real” man meant to rule and exploit the weak OR an object serving at the pleasure and mercy of the self-proclaimed mighty.

This describes what the false-self of a narcissist consists of: the formation of a mind-set so guarded and fearful of being weakened by supposedly “female traits” that it attacks, hates and rages against any evidence of weakness in self and others. It explains why narcissists and psychopaths live with self-hatred, why they love to hate, and love to be hated. It also explains why no person, no woman and no kindness, can ever reach them. Their very identity as men is based on violating others to prove who’s superior and who’s not.

As Derrick Jensen notes, in an article titled, The Man Box and the Cult of Masculinity:

The problem is that within this patriarchy, identity itself is based on violation. Violation becomes not merely an action but an identity: who you are, and how you and society define who you are. Within this patriarchy men’s masculinity defines itself by identifying others—any and all others—as inferior (which is why those stupid fucking scientists can ask “Are we all alone?” as they destroy the extraordinary life on this planet), and as being therefore violable, and then violating them. For men under this patriarchy, these acts of violating others are how we become who we are. They validate who we are. They then reaffirm who we are, as through these repeated acts of violation we come to perceive each new violation as reinforcement not only of our superiority over this other we violated but as simply the way things are. 

So without this identification of others as inferior, without this violation, we are not. We are a void. And so we must fill this void, fill it with validations of our superiority, fill it with violations. Thus the rapes. Thus the violation of every boundary set up by every indigenous culture. Thus the extinctions. Thus the insane belief in an economic system based on infinite growth despite the fact that we live on a finite planet.

(In other words, “beauty” was lied to; only in fairy tales is the beast tamed by her kindness and love.)

Arguably, these disorders are responsible for much, if not all, of the trauma and dysfunctional relationships in couple and family contexts.

3. DARVO is a key trait the “cult of masculinity” conditions most all men from boyhood to think is a biological norm, even those who would never assault a woman physically. 

As a form of thought control, the “cult of masculinity” arbitrarily divides human beings in adversarial categories, such as superior versus inferior, rulers versus subjects, and so on.

It works by crippling the otherwise remarkable capacity of the human brain to think reflectively. A combination of fear-activating punishments and rewards are applied to train subjects to reject what does not conform, and strictly adhere to what does conform to the group-think beliefs of “the cult” even when they defy facts and common sense, for example, Christian believers who inexplicably give strong support to politicians that, even boast, of their long history of amoral and, or violent conduct toward others, women, the poor and children.

The “cult of masculinity” conditions men to feel they have to continually prove they are “real” men, superior to women, and do so, by dominating women through, at minimum, with heartless lies and illusions, gaslighting and bait-and-switch games (love bombing), in order to get women to worship and treat men like infallible gods, serving at their pleasure.

In a nut shell, the “cult of masculinity” legitimizes violence against women by duping men into thinking that women “expect” male partners to dominate them, even when they say “No!”

This myth is widely believed by men, and pornography reinforces it to extremes.

An article on Violence and Cult of Masculinity notes:

“A false image of manhood that “makes men act violently and risk their lives angainst their own interests as humans. It must be addressed.”

The worship of traits of violence and aggression that are then labeled exclusively as “masculine,” by the way, is a mainstay believe system in all cults, religious and secular, employed to dupe innocent persons, women and men alike who, being human, would never suspect others would go to such lengths, to intentionally harm and exploit them.

It has been used by dictators in the last century, and increasingly developed and fine tuned. In the words of Hitler in his manifesto “Mein Kampf”:

“By the skillful and sustained use of propaganda, one can make a people see even heaven as hell or an extremely wretched life as paradise.”

All cults and dictatorships condition their young to worship (supposedly) “male traits” of aggression, and to devalue, hate, and regard as dangerous to masculinity the (supposedly) “female traits’ of love, caring, nonsexual affection, empathy, and the like.

It’s often called misogyny. In effect, however, it’s really and more correctly misanthropy. It is hate propaganda against the best of what makes us all human beings — our desires to emotionally connect, contribute, collaborate and work together to create an ever better world for one another, and our children.

What is called misogyny is merely a strategic targeting of emotions of empathy, caring as traits that are arbitrarily  labeled “female” and “weak” — in adversarial relation to masculine traits. This emotionally manipulates, or conditions men to turn men against their own inner core impulses, and reject them as weakness.

In reality, the cult of masculinity is misanthropy, that is, a hatred for human traits, the very ones that allow us to emotionally connect with one another, to find happiness in meaningfully contributing to one another’s lives, loved ones and our communities. Common sense wisdom tells us the value system of “the cult” is detrimental for all members of society, regardless of gender, age, religion.

To the extent sexism exists, so do racism, classism and every other “ism.”

It is how hate propaganda works. Notably, misogyny or misanthropy form the basis for all hate propaganda.

The men and boys that we treasure, our husbands, sons, fathers, brothers, uncles, and so on, deserve so much better than to be systematically terrorized from boyhood (in varying degrees, it’s a common experience of most all boys), with the use of shaming practices and lies, that train them, in turn, to attack women and girls, and others (at minimum in their minds) — in order to continuously prove they are “real” men.

The beliefs of the “cult of masculinity” dehumanize our men, by zapping their ability to feel empathy and relate to the women as friends and partners, in fact, some of their strongest and most reliable supporters, ready to work with them, side by side, for the betterment of all.

It is inhumane, to say the least, to train our boys and men to make a false choice dilemma that produces high levels of fear inside them, one that forces them to either choose to identify with violence against the vulnerable and inferior, and thus prove they are strong and superior, or choose to not exist as a man, and thus forego the “benefits” of “the club,” such as exploiting others with impunity.

As women, mothers, daughters, sisters, and so on, we deserve much better as well. It is reasonable to ask for a safe world in which narcissistic abuse and all forms of pathological violence are things of the past.

A culture that is not safe and life-enriching for women and children, is not safe and enriching for men either. The links between sexual violence, narcissism and the cult of masculinity tell us that, if we really want to end violence against vulnerable groups, our focus when dealing with domestic violence and sexual assault, and other violent crimes, needs to be on investigating the persons accused of violence, and not their accusers (which makes little sense). Much consideration must be given to their tendency of repeat offenders to lie and fabricate; to DARVO, deny, attack, reverse the roles to play victim.

In dealing with sexual assault cases, it’s time for all involved in the courts to: (1) remove  “reasonable doubt” as a requirement (because it effectively allows DARVO to legitimize assault and rape); (2) shift focus from scrutinizing victims of assault, to instead examining alleged offenders, their backgrounds, relational conduct, character and so on, for APD or NPD criteria; (3) look for the use of DARVO tactics by alleged offenders and their accomplices (often women); and last but not least (4) shouldn’t the use of military thought-control tactics in civilian settings, to terrorize, harm and silence innocent victims from speaking their truth truth, criminal acts?

It’s time to put the focus on the disorder and persons who assault vulnerable populations — and the cult of masculinity that terrorizes men from boyhood to make a false choice, activated by core fears of inadequacy, rejection, and the like, to have a pathological need for power (healthy power is purely the ability to make choices, agency, not to subvert another’s will).

It’s time for men — and straight men in particular — to tell their own stories, and speak out against the detrimental effects “boys will be boys” and strategies of “the cult” have had on them, their marriages, their children and families, communities and society at large.

It’s time to see the widespread problem of narcissistic abuse, and consider the damaging effects of the “cult of masculinity,” and it’s code to silence and secrecy, on men and women, young and old.

It’s time to put “the cult and its beliefs” on trial in order to protect those who are vulnerable, especially our young, and to expose their methods, the lies, the misrepresentations of women as either silent or dangerous threats to men, how this is used to intensify men’s fear of women, and how this puts women at greater risk of assault.

Last but not least, it’s time to put what should have been on trial at the hearings, that is, the use of DARVO, and other scientifically developed methods of thought control, in other words lies, in civilian contexts.

Is it not a crime to lie under oath?

***Pathological abuse is distinct from the use of emotionally abusive words and actions that, while still harmful, may commonly occur in relational interactions as a result of frustrations, disagreements, learned problematic coping patterns, anger outbursts and other emotional regulation issues. In contrast, pathological or narcissistic abuse is a set of methodical use of proven thought-control tactics, a combination of fear- and pleasure-activating (love-bombing) tactics are used to systematically tear down another’s sense of self and agency of another, with intent to make them feel confused, crazy, irrelevant, ashamed, undeserving, disconnected from their own needs, wants and interests, instead worshiping and dependent on the abuser, isolated from others. In extreme cases, cults and psychopaths use these tactics to exploit, assault or enslave target (and unaware) groups.


Photo by Mobilus In Mobili

The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings and 3 Links Between Sexual Assault, Narcissism and the “Cult of Masculinity”

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik motivates clients to break free of anxiety, emotion reactivity, and other addictive patterns, to awaken wholehearted relating to self and other. She is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik

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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2018). The Ford-Kavanaugh Hearings and 3 Links Between Sexual Assault, Narcissism and the “Cult of Masculinity”. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 30, 2020, from


Last updated: 5 Oct 2018
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