Over the years I have become increasingly aware of how individuals, groups, and various institutions may use emotional blackmail and verbal abuse to control, punish, or simply get what they want or think they need..... and....... since physical/emotional needs are legitimate needs institutions and individuals sometimes feel justified in using such tacitcs....but....at what price?....The breakdown and dissolution of relationships or the loss of the individual spirit is often the fallout. ...Verbal/emotional abuse is something we all engage in from time to time and to one degree or another but some individuals or groups are prone to use various forms of manipulation on a regular basis to the detriment of themselves and the people around them. Personally this problem has had a profound effect on my life and my various relationships which is why I wanted to write, hopefully, a series of articles addressing this problem for both the benefit of myself and any others who might stumble across my blog. Following are a collection of ponderings and information that addresses the problem of emotional/verbal abuse for everyones consideration...You can call it a primer.....I have chosen a question and answer format to address the various issues associated with emotional blackmail. All quotations come from Susan Forward's book Emotional Blackmail.
What is emotional blackmail...."Emotional blackmail is a powerful form of manipulation in which people close to us threaten, either directly or indirectly, to punish us if we don't do what they want"
What are the primary tactics used by emotional blackmailers?
3. Appeals of obligation to God, family, work, and country.
4. Attacks on one's character, motives, sense of self worth.
What are some examples and characteristics of emotional blackmail?....
1. When someone verbally threatens to make your'e life difficult if you don't do what they want.
2. Tell you or imply that they will neglect, hurt themselves or become depressed if yo don't do want they want.
3. Blackmailers always want more, no matter how much you give.
4. They regularly assume you will give in to them.
5. Regularly ignore or discount your feelings, needs, and desires.
6. Consistently label you as selfish, bad, greedy, unfeeling, or uncaring when you don't give into them.
7. They shower you with approval when you give in and take it away when you don't.
8. Insist that their character and motives are superior.
9. Avoid taking any responsibility for the problems between them and you.
10. Emotional blackmail encourages others to take responsibilty for the blackmailers complaints and unhappiness. If you are on the recieving end of the emotional abuse you are perceived as the bad guy while the abuser perceives themself as wearing the white hat.
11. The balance of power is one sided. My way or the highway is the mantra. Compromise, being fair, and standard give and take are not options for emotional abusers.
12. When blackmailers get desperate they kick it up to another level by challenging our motives, character, self worth, and bringing God into the picture to get us into line which are effective tools if we are generally a sensitive religious person who does believe in God.
Important qualifier: It's important to remember that we not label every conflict or expression of strong emotions as emotional blackmail. People have the right to set limits...set boundaries...and share their wants and needs....and, as long as they don't use threat or various manipulative pressure tactics it is healthy and appropiate and not an example of blackmail.
Why are some people more susceptible to emotional abuse than others?
People who have an excessive need for approval or have an intense fear of anger and rejection are prime candidates for abuse because they also have alot of self doubt which plays into the hands of manipulators who attempt to define you in their terms and not yours...and....if you don't have a clear perspective of who you are and know what you need/want than you are at high risk to the emotionally abusive spin doctors.
Caretakers and people who have a history of having to put others needs before their own are also at high risk because they naturally want to help others. Emotional blackmailers tend to come from emotionally or physically abusive background where their own needs were neglected therefore they tend to naturally prey on people who are sensitive to meeting the needs of others.......It is critically important to rememember to not "beat yourself up for giving into a blackmailer...you did the best you could with what you knew. Look compassionately at the person who have been and then make the changes, inch by inch that you need to make to break yourself free from those who would seek to control, blackmail, or abuse you."...Susan Forward....
I'll wrap this up next time with some advise/suggestions for consideration on some practical things one can do when facing emotional blackmail....