Manipulation in relationships is more common than some people realize and the abuser manages to get away with it for so long as the person in receipt has no idea it is happening until it is too late.
It will start with little things and before you know it the abuser has taken control of your life and you are by then too afraid to speak up in defence of yourself.
You will go about your day to day life thinking everything is fine with your relationship but then the abuser starts to twist and turn every little thing you say and do and use them against you leaving you confused and feeling violated.
The abuser will make even the smallest of faults a major issue, they will leave you feeling as if you are going crazy as they will often tell you that what you say happened didn’t happen and leave you questioning your own mind.
You begin to feel as if your abuser is literally living in your head and before you know it you feel unable to make any decisions about your life so the abuser makes them for you, often telling you they are only trying to help you.
If some or all of this sounds familiar to you then you are being manipulated, below are the tactics used by the abuser.
Initially, you think they are just joking around with you, a bit of harmless banter, the reality is they are not laughing ‘with’ you, they are laughing ‘at’ you. You start to notice that their tone, eye contact and body language is not the same as when you are joking around with someone, it is in fact quite sinister. It leaves you feeling scared of what they may say or do next so you ensure you give them no reason to make fun of you, this often fails though as they will make fun of you over anything and everything. They are looking to make you totally obedient and that is how you become in the vain hope of keeping the peace.
You can’t say no
You find yourself unable to say no even if that is what you want to say, the very thought of saying no to them terrifies you. Even if you do gather the strength to say no the very fact you have disobeyed what they want will cause them to attack you either verbally or physically or even both. Saying no shows your abuser then they do not have the full control they desire so they will continue to break you down until the point where no is an impossible word to say.
You justify your actions
You know what they are doing is wrong, yet you defend them and their actions as well as your own. You try and look for an explanation as to why they are behaving like this and to understand why you respond in the way you do. You make so many excuses and hope that they will revert back to how they were when you first met them, that person is long gone and what remains is the true nature of the abuser.
If you really loved me…
This is one often used by the abuser to get what they want from you. They lay a guilt trip on you saying you can’t possibly love them like you claim if you won’t do as they ask. You know what they want you to do is wrong for you or is even illegal but you find yourself trapped into doing what they want. They often use this one when you don’t want to have sex and they do, or they want to video or take pictures of you that you don’t want to do, often the collecting of videos and pictures is to then use as blackmail should you in their mind step out of line.
You blame yourself
Everything that is wrong with the relationship in your mind is your fault, you caused the change in your partner, you are the one making them behave this way, you are not! You find yourself feeling guilty for taking some time for yourself such as going to the gym, going to the mall for your own pleasure even reading a damn book. Your abuser makes you feel guilty for doing this as you are not paying them the attention they feel they deserve, so they start with mind games about your downtime to the point where you have no time for yourself as its easier that way than dealing with them ripping into you.
Emotional blackmail is the worst type of manipulation they mask it as caring for you and that they love you, how very wrong that is as it isn’t love at all. You could be thinking or have even said you’re leaving them and they come back at you with ‘I would die without you’ and such like. When that doesn’t win you over then they use threats, remember earlier when I wrote about pictures and videos, this is when they bring them into play and with threatened to post them online or even send them to your friends and family so you stay and you can’t stand the thought of that humiliation.
The abuser uses this one to the maximum, it is also one of the most damaging tactics and it plays on your fears and you feel helpless to get away from the abuser. The abuser may invent stories about you and tell people that you have mental health problems, you could be spending an evening with friends and they say something you know hasn’t happened and when you say this, they will say something like ‘it’s ok, you don’t remember because you’re not well right now’ and everyone looks at you in horror and looks at the abuser with sympathy thinking how wonderful they are for putting up with you. You are left feeling that maybe your mind is playing tricks on you and that you must stay beside your abuser as its where you will be most safe when the reality is it’s the most dangerous place to be.
They often use this tactic if they don’t want you to go somewhere without them, or they don’t want to go to something like a long-time planned family event. They suddenly fall ill and are unable to go and they need you to stay with them as they are sick. They are sick alright in the head! They will, for example, lay on the couch suffering from sickness or a serious migraine and they can’t possibly be left alone, that is what is meant by convenient neediness. So you stay to look after them, its amazing how suddenly they feel better once the event is over and you’ve missed on having much needed time with family and friends, thus isolating you more and more so the only person you actually end up having any time with is your abuser, then very person you need to be away from.