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Emotional Blackmail

August 17, 2010

I have heard of this term, for the first time, a year ago. But what I didn’t realize was that I had suffered “Emotional Blackmail” a few times in my lifetime. It was really shocking to learn that what a few past “friends” demanded of me had it’s own name.

Emotional Blackmail means when a person use an emotional threat to make another comply with their wishes. For example, “If you don’t do what I want, I’ll kill myself.” or “If you go to that baseball game and not stay here and talk with me, I’ll start cutting myself.” This type of abuse works on people who are empathetic and generally kind people. This is a manipulation, playing on the fears and emotions of a kind person, to get ones way. :-/

And this is ABUSE, plain and simple. The abusers, who use emotional blackmail, have no intentions of hurting themselves or leaving the victim. The abuser prey on the victim’s caring nature and empathy, hoping to manipulate them into complying with every wish.

My abusers, in the past, would often keep me logged online or cause me to skip important appointments, because they would claim that if I leave the computer, they would kill or harm themselves. Also, I’ve had threats of “friends” claiming they were cutting themselves, if I didn’t agree with them on something or wanted to go to sleep, instead of staying up with them all night. I felt OBLIGATED to be uncomfortable in my own life (lack of sleep, little self-respect, no opinions, and missing opportunities), in order to keep someone else happy and unharmed.

And, it’s not only with harming themselves that an Emotional Blackmailer will use! A few of my past abusers threaten to not speak with me or be a friend to me anymore, if I didn’t always agree with them or showed up on time to entertain them or at least try to heal their woes. Two, in particular, decided that I wasn’t allowed to have an “bad day”, where I didn’t log online and tried to deal with my own personal problems. They sent me frantic messages, telling me to “get over it!” and to get back online “NOW”, or else I wouldn’t have them as friends. I refused and they “ended” the friendship, by sending attacking emails and then blocking me.

But, they did try to come back later, which I responded by blocking them instead this time around. ;-)

That was two years ago… but it resonated with me. Now, I know the signs of Emotional Blackmailers, which I am a lot more careful to avoid these days. It can be one of the most hurtful and emotionally damaging type of abuse, within any relationship. And for all abusive relationships, it’s best to get out of it and get help for yourself, NOW! :-o

A person that truly loves you and cares for you, WILL NOT resort to emotional threats or try to manipulate you in any way. Only selfish people, who care only about themselves, are willing to blackmail others. Think about it, if you really loved someone, would you really want to trap them into doing something that they didn’t want to do? And would you really play on that person’s good nature or insecurities to get what you wanted? The healthy answer is, NO.

Signs of Emotional Blackmail includes:

Demand, not an request – It’s when a person leaves you with no choice, but to do what they wish of you. They will shout that you’re not a very good friend (or spouse) or care for them, unless you call off plans or activities (going on vacation, to the movies, a family gathering, etc.)  for them. They will threaten to leave, pack up their bags, cry or shout, or threaten to harm themselves.

Punishment – If you are more likely and often punished for not doing what the abuser wish, this is a sign! If a person is pouting, crying until you give in, threatening to end the relationship, or withholding sex until you do what he or she wants, this is emotional blackmailing.

Forced Decisions – If you’re always forced to do what you don’t want to, more often or not this is a sign. You wind up doing things the other person’s way, for fear that they will leave, harm themselves, or generally kill any peace of mind for you (“she won’t let me relax, until I do what she wants!”), then you are being emotionally blackmailed.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean a person is emotionally blackmailing you, if they demand that you don’t cheat on them… or threaten to leave you, if you do! Or cry if you’re caught doing something wrong in a relationship. And claiming “emotional blackmail”, when it’s you who is doing something wrong in a relationship, is also a form of YOU doing the blackmailing. :-p

But for normal and non-harmful situations (like not always agreeing with a person, enjoying positive hobbies-like fishing, or attending positive events), Emotional Blackmailing can apply. If a person is manipulating you into not disagreeing with them, or stopping you from participating in hobbies and events that are not harmful toward the relationship (but may not include the other person directly within it), this is emotional blackmailing.

And manipulation is NEVER a healthy part to any relationship! It’s best to leave such an abusive relationship. But, if you do choose to stay and work on your relationship with an Emotional Blackmailer, here’s a tip. DON’T give in to their demands, threats, or cries! You don’t help them, in this way! Not giving in helps them learn how to be in a healthy relationship. :-)

-D

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