Did you know that emotional blackmail is abuse?
So what exactly is emotional blackmail you ask?
Very simply described emotional blackmail is manipulation.
An attitude and system that involves mental games (psychological manipulation) and behaviours to manipulate the feelings of usually kind and empathetic people to make someone behave in a particular way i.e. do something they wouldn’t do or do not want to, to enable the blackmailer to get what they want.
The blackmailer usually says and/or does something that makes the other person or people feel fear, obligation and or guilt referred to as “FOG” amongst counsellors, abuse workers and psychologists.
I also include shame.
The blackmailer may also use threats, bribery, physical violence and/or access to money as a means to get what they want.
Emotional blackmail is prevalent in society. It occurs in the workplace, schools and home.
Manipulation between couples is probably more easily recognizable although it is just as easily dismissed, and is very common in family situations.
Emotional blackmail can be both passive and aggressive.
I’m sure you can recognise someone in your circumference of co-workers, friends and family that would do anything to avoid conflict or try to smooth out relationships between different parties or family members. These people can also be emotional blackmailers.
HOW TO RECOGNISE EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL
Be mindful as to how you feel.
Are you asking or being asked or are you demanding or being demanded of?
Can you recognise patterns, your own as well as those of others?
Patterns for example can be in the form of tantrums, pouting and withdrawal of love and affection.
Maybe saying things like
- “if you love me…..”
- “I did this because of you….”
- “you make me feel ….”
- “it’s your fault I hit you”
REASONS WHY PEOPLE EMOTIONALLY BLACKMAIL SOMEONE
Quite often the blackmailer has been blackmailed themselves and so have been taught the practice or in some cases the art.
Although there are different styles of blackmailers the characteristics are based on basically any or a combination of FEELINGS:
- fear of abandonment
- fear of being deprived
- fear of being hurt
- having been emotionally blackmailed themselves
- feelings of desperation
- the need to be in control (to ensure any of their fears to not eventuate)
HOW TO HANDLE EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL
Enabling a blackmailer is to allow them to continue their behaviour by succumbing to their demands.
The first thing to do is to sit with the emotion that comes up for you, in you.
By this I mean to take the time to not react if at all possible. Just allow yourself to feel whilst simultaneously being mindful i.e. aware of where you feel the feeling in your body and how you are feeling, to what depth, what the emotion is, name the emotion.
Ask yourself if appropriate at the time otherwise wait and do it later when you have time to yourself, “where is this feeling coming from in me?”
What event or circumstances surrounded the feeling that’s coming up for you right now or when placed in that situation?
Emotional blackmail is a great way to learn about yourself.
To unravel patterns and beliefs you may have carried around for years without having thought about it.
Recognising whether you are the blackmailer or the blackmailee is not a judgement or blame game or even a gossip opportunity. It’s an opportunity for growth and enlightenment, healing and even a catalyst for dramatic change in the course of direction in your life.
It’s a momentus occasion to review life, how you’ve been living it and your relationships that with yourself as well as with others.
HOW TO STOP EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL
- don’t give in to demands immediately – allow yourself time to digest the situation
- recognise when a demand is being made
- know in yourself that blackmailing is not acceptable behaviour
- consider your own needs in the situation, are they being met
- become more self aware – understand why you feel uncomfortable about a demand and this will help you to achieve an emotional detachment
- detach from the emotion
- set boundaries
- know you are worthy – work on self esteem
SELF ESTEEM AND EMOTIONAL MANIPULATION
I liken a blackmailer and a victim relationship to that of a superior and a subordinate.
Both in actual fact have self esteem, confidence and ability challenges.
By this I am saying that the victim is usually unconfident and the blackmailer, appearing to be confident is indeed scourged by an unmet need.
The blackmailer believes their unmet need in some way affects their worth and worthiness which leads to unacceptable behaviour in order to fulfil the “need” in order for them to have mental contentment.
Emotional blackmail can escalate to physical violence and or acts of physical damage to property.
Typically the scenario occurs between close couples eg partners when one confides in the other and the other abuses their trust and uses vulnerabilities against them to control them.
Frustration is a key component in the escalation to physical violence along with the use or over use of alcohol and drugs and/or a sense of urgency. Think of abductions and ransom notes to equate.
INTERVENTION BY FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Unfortunately the involvement of other people can sometimes also escalate problems, albeit well intentioned on the face of it.
Those that interfere often hold similar ideas and traits to those that are initially involved and therefore intervene absent of the best mindset to diminish a problem and can wind up “feeding” the problem and making it worse. Before too long a whole family could end up being involved.
Gang conflict is great example of an out of balance situation where emotional blackmail may have escalated to physical violence and gang warfare. Where one gang may believe they are better than another or want something from the other gang.
In this scenario we can see where emotional blackmail has originated at a microscopic level, escalated and replicated to a macrocosmic level and grown to include physical violence and abuse.
In my mind there isn’t much difference between the emotional blackmail and physical violence involved in gang warfare and wars between countries.
GENDER, INCOME LEVEL, RACE AND SOCIO ECONOMIC STATUS DO NOT QUARANTINE EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL OR FIX IT