Predators typically cannot put into words what their real motivation is, as they do not know it

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

I’m sad to say that during my life I’ve had at least two encounters with different kinds of predators, one male and one female. Every time I asked them what they really wanted, they had a different reason. I think they invent reasons, on the spot, when someone asks. Their real motivation is a non-rational thing that is difficult to put into words. The Greeks have the word “alogos” which can be translated “inexpressible” and which covers predators. Maybe they enjoy the thrill of the hunt, or maybe they are seeking power, or maybe they are sadists, or perhaps they are seeking some kind of high, which they have difficulty finding, but they keep chasing after it, like any addict.

Here is a story of two women who ruined a guy’s life, and I suspect these two women would have trouble putting into words what their real motivation is.

This is the setup:

Six weeks after they broke off contact, Shuman called Hay to tell him she was pregnant with his baby. She hadn’t had sex with another man in the past year, she said. Hay was stunned; he hadn’t ejaculated during either of their encounters, a side effect of his medication. But he understood that pregnancy was possible, if rare, without orgasm. Shuman said she was weighing whether to terminate the pregnancy, then quickly followed up by saying she’d made the decision to carry to term — she was due in January.

This kind of tactical manipulation reminds of Milburn, from my book How To Destroy A Tech Startup In Three Easy Steps. It is amazing how destructive this behavior can be. As I pointed out in my book, proceeding in any kind of relationship with lies and threats makes it impossible for people to build something together.

…They hadn’t been sexually involved since their encounter at the Sheraton Commander in April, but Shuman could be effusive, telling him repeatedly how much she loved him. Other times, their exchanges were tense. In one email, Shuman chastised him for not making himself available to see her. “I made arrangements with my nanny at the last minute to help with the children so I could come see you, and then called you several times in your office with no response,” she wrote. “You should be the one providing support to me, not mistreating me and piling further stress onto me. Today was the last time that I am going to pander to your tantrums.”

This also became part of my life when I was at that the startup that I talk about in my book:

When the women couldn’t reach Hay on his cell phone, they would often call his landline repeatedly and send texts demanding he “Pick up the phone!” Sometimes they would call Zacks — and even once called their oldest son — to try to track Hay down.

The first 3 startups I did I was a co-owner, so working 7 days a week was simply part of the fun — me and my co-founders were simply excited about the project. But when I became an employee, I realized how abusive that can be. Allowing the CEO or the Board Of Directors to demand 24 hour a day responsiveness needs to be negotiated carefully, it should never be assumed. And likewise, in one’s personal life, this seems like a huge red flag. When people feel they have the right to be angry with you, whenever they want, then they are abusive, full stop.

Predators never hunt the most powerful members of a herd, instead they go after the weakest members. And these two women had decided that Hay was an easy target:

…In the weeks leading up to the January due date, Hay used his publishing connections to help Haider pursue her writing. They began collaborating on projects. “I felt duty-bound to help this brilliant person blossom,” Hay says. Haider asked him to share a byline, but he usually served as more of an editor and agent, reaching out to magazine editors to help place their work, including an op-ed for Huffington Post on anti-discrimination bathroom bills and another for The Guardian on the need to block Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. When Shuman was too pregnant to travel, Hay accompanied Haider to Phoenix to consult with a doctor about scheduling gender-affirmation surgery in the spring. Conveniently, he didn’t have to mention the trip to Zacks. She and the kids had decamped to Paris, where he would be joining them in late January for a semester-long sabbatical.

….Meanwhile, Zacks had become suspicious about the nature of Hay’s relationship with his new friends. While they were in Paris, she could no longer ignore how consumed he was by the women. “There was anger and crying when I spent hours on the phone with them,” he says. “She thought I was being lured away and that everything was falling apart.” He finally told her he’d been involved with Shuman. Zacks took it as an enormous betrayal. She declined to speak on the record, but as far as she was concerned, there was no don’t-ask-don’t-tell arrangement. He had cheated on her, physically and emotionally. In June, he told her he couldn’t break things off with them because the child was his. “Her immediate reaction was: ‘How do you know?’ ” he says. “She raised points that were tactical on her part. I thought that this was her mental strategy for splitting [Mischa, Maria-Pia, and me] up. I just thought she was deceiving herself.”

…Throughout the summer and fall, the women suggested Hay financially “disentangle” from Zacks, proposing he sell his house or ask Zacks to buy him out so he could invest in the women’s house. (“Shuman and Mischa were always saying ‘disentangle’ — it was like a mantra,” says Hay.) At one point, Haider and Hay went to a bank to see what kind of home-equity loan he could get.

By October, even as Hay continued to meet with Haider almost daily to talk about her writing, the texts from both women had become increasingly hostile. They told Hay that his failure to leave Zacks was tantamount to torture and attacked him for, in Shuman’s words, “exploiting and manipulating” Haider. “She feels there should be criminal legal and administrative consequences for your behavior,” wrote Shuman. They began threatening to report him to the police and the university for “raping” Shuman. On the afternoon of October 26, Haider texted, “I’m going now with pitou [Shuman’s nickname] to file a complaint at Harvard. I’m going to add that you just now attempted to extort her for 1 million dollars. If you make any further threats to ‘destroy me’ I will share those with the administration as well. You calling me and hanging up also constitutes harassment.”

If predators get away with their early attacks, then they escalate. In this case they showed up at the house and confronted the mother of Hay’s children:

In early December 2016, Haider and Shuman tried to reach Hay on his landline and discovered Zacks had blocked their number. They left a message on his cell: Tell Jennifer to unblock us or we’re coming over. When he didn’t respond, they showed up at his house and had their first face-to-face encounter with Zacks while Hay’s oldest son filmed the incident on his iPhone. It was night and the video is dark, but you can hear Haider shout at Zacks in a harsh staccato: “It is not our fault that Bruce got her pregnant! Do you understand that?” as Hay’s younger children cry in the background. Shuman berates Hay for “yelling at us” instead of at his older son, whom they order to stop filming. Hay then moves toward his son as if to block the camera, and you can hear Hay sigh. “Listen, they aren’t well,” Hay tells him. The confrontation ends when the police arrive; no charges were filed.

One thing that I’ve learned only invites more abuse is to try to negotiate with people who are clearly not negotiating in good faith:

The Christmas détente was short-lived. “I think you should tell the dean how you have raped women, how you have sexually abused them, and that now you will be held accountable,” Shuman wrote in February. “I’m going to write her and detail the abuse you have done, and explain how if they have any decency they will fire you.” The fighting was punctuated by occasional in-person meetings among the three, purportedly to figure out a harmonious path forward. During one of these periods, in April 2017, they agreed that Haider, Shuman, Haider’s boyfriend Klein, and the kids would stay with Hay in July while Zacks was away in Spain with his other children. The women were planning to sell their house and buy a bigger place in Cambridge (though, at other times, they discussed moving to Europe to flee Trump’s America). Hay asked only that they not tell Zacks. He went house hunting with Haider in May and June and helped them make arrangements to have their stuff moved into storage in July.

Considering that Hay is a law professor, this is surprising:

Acting on what he says were Shuman’s requests, Hay booked a moving truck, putting the $200 deposit on his university credit card, and rented a series of storage units. He says Shuman claimed it was necessary for insurance purposes that he sign the paperwork, even though the units were not for his belongings. He deferred to her authority; as an accountant, she was business-minded, he reasoned. He signed without reading them. (Shuman says Hay did this all on his own initiative; she denies giving him instructions.)

He desperately wanted to appease both families — Shuman and Haider on one side, and Zacks and their children on the other. Less than a day after the three arrived in Quebec, Shuman disappeared. She’d mentioned earlier that she might see a specialist in Montreal — but Hay says she had his laptop. He remembers Haider telling him not to worry; she’d rejoin them soon.

Obviously, this was a setup, so the two women could get control of Hay’s house:

The next day, Hay called the Cambridge police. When the officer accompanied him to his house, the women came to the door — his door — and furnished a lease renting them the $3.2 million home for two years for $1,500 a month. He says Shuman had used his laptop while they were in Quebec to send an email to her lawyer from his Harvard account, in which he purportedly said the “lease” “looks good.” Then they produced a copy of the $3,000 check they’d made out to Hay before the Quebec trip. See, we paid a security deposit, they said.

Shuman also told the officer that she’d thrown Hay out of the house the night before for unwanted sexual advances. The officer saw no reason to believe Hay’s story over hers. Hay tried to appeal to the women to leave and de-escalate the situation before Zacks returned. On July 24, Haider texted Hay to say, “All this is difficult, but we love you.”

One things that predators is they constantly accuse others of being weak in all the ways that they themselves are weak. We’ve all seen this with President Trump, he accuses others of being weak and stupid and hating America because he is weak and stupid and he hates America. The same dynamic is at work here:

Zacks, for her part, didn’t waste time when she returned to the U.S. She immediately hired a lawyer to serve Shuman, Haider, and Klein with a notice of trespass. The Hay family moved into an apartment while they began court proceedings to evict Shuman and Haider — and Klein and the kids — who meanwhile continued to hound Hay. “You took ALL my love for you, and TRASHED it,” Shuman texted. “You are pathologically involved in a toxic mess with Jennifer.”

And of course, predators have multiple victims:

Roe had also hired a private investigator to find out more about Shuman. The investigator found another similar case: In October 2009, Shuman had picked up a Harvard medical student, referred to in a court-case transcript as “John Poe,” and later confronted him with a paternity claim. During a restraining-order hearing she was pursuing against Poe, she alleged that he was not only the father of the oldest of her three children (following their single sexual encounter, in which he had worn a condom) but that he had raped her and said he was going to kill her. The request for the restraining order appeared to be retaliatory; Poe, who suffers from severe anxiety disorders, was himself pursuing a restraining order against a woman named Jacqueline Lescarret, who, allegedly at Shuman’s behest, had been terrorizing him for years. The outlines of that case are eerily similar to Hay’s: Lescarret threatened to expose Poe to the university and his family as the father of the child, and she and Shuman extorted from him $11,000 as well as favors — among them, befriending Haider and offering her weight-loss training in preparation for her transition. A private investigator hired by Roe’s lawyer found no records of Lescarret’s existence.

The story finds yet another victim:

…Two months later, in mid-May, Shuman reached out to Doe to say she was back in Boston and wanted to get together. She asked him to meet at a Massachusetts Avenue apartment in Cambridge. When he arrived, she answered the door naked and positioned him on the couch. Again they had sex. After that, they didn’t speak until June, when she informed him she was pregnant with his baby. Doe suggested a paternity test after the baby was born. Later he indicated that he wanted to co-parent the child; Shuman demanded he back off. “She launched into this tirade of ‘We are feminists and hate men, and we aren’t going to allow men into our child’s life.’ It was horrible,” he told me, tearing up at the memory. Doe still thought they could work something out, but Shuman demanded he relinquish his parental rights. By July, she’d stopped responding to him, which is when he hired a lawyer.

Someone who I love very much is still, right now, the victim of a predator. Except when I’m able to actively protect her, the predator still looks to hurt in various ways. And this person who I love is still looking to believe there is something good and loving in that predator. It’s that desperate desire to believe that there is some good in the predators that seems to make the most vulnerable victims.

Hay fits into this category:

Yet there were moments when he still sought ways to justify, or at least make sense of, Shuman and Haider’s campaign against him, searching in earnest for evidence of genuine affection amid the years of deceit.

The sad part is the way victims are forever wondering about the reasons. What are the motivations of the predators? But the predators often don’t know their motivations. They invent reasons out of thin air, and the victim never knows the truth:

Hay remains mystified about what the women really wanted from him.
Money appears to be a factor but not necessarily the only one — after all, theirs was a long, expensive, and punitive game with no guarantee of a big payoff. Hay says Shuman once told him they’d targeted him for signing an open letter in late 2014 calling for more due process in Harvard’s Title IX proceedings. (Shuman denies ever saying this.) “I don’t know if that’s the real reason or something she made up later,” says Hay. In May 2018, Hay received a barrage of text messages from an unknown number: “Find a way to connect if you want a chance to take the last exit before HELL … Take my word, you ain’t seen nothing yet. I promise. Oh and as to your quest for motives? Don’t bother. I just really hate the patriarchy, that’s it.”

I think asking “What is the real motivation of predators?” is like asking “Why does addiction happen?” Medical science doesn’t yet have an answer, but clearly some primal circuitry is involved. And sometimes that circuitry is wired for evil. In that case, asking about the motivations of predators is like asking about the motivations of bacteria. Why does bacteria infect you? It can not give you a reason. The bacteria is simply following its cruel programming.

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