But how Can I spot an emotional manipulator?

Previously I talked about what emotional abuse is, but I’m going to go into more detail here.  Basically, how to spot it before it happens, or to catch it early on.  Now, I should mention that not every fight or argument in a relationship is abuse, it’s just abuse when it gets to be way to common and there seems to be no resolution or understanding in your relationship.  Everybody fights dirty to some point, but how do you know if its going to go down a road that is not healthy?

              Emotional manipulators get extra marks for subtlety.  A patronizing, mind-screwer can bend and twist and warp but somehow after a period of time they set off the ol’ bullshit meter.  An emotional manipulator is smoother.  You’ll have adjust the sensitivity of your bullshit meter to escape unscathed.  What is emotional manipulation?  Well, its a method of using words, body language and behavior for the purposes of provoking a particular reaction, getting a desired response or to just plain ol’ screw you over.  If the emotional blackmailer is any good, he (or she) will have you offering to bend over and be screwed one more time, “anything you want dear.”  So now lets talk about how the work and how to recognize the game (because it is very much just a game) so you can safeguard yourself.

            1.)  There is no use in trying to be honest with an emotional abuser.  You make a statement and it will be turned around.  Example: “I am really angry you forgot my birthday.”  Response:  “It makes me feel sad that you would think I would forget your birthday, I should have told you the great personal stress I am facing at the moment- but I didn’t want to trouble you.  (don’t be surprised to see real tears at this point).  You are right, I should of put all this pain aside and focused on your birthday.  Sorry.”  Even as you are hearing the words you get the creeped out feeling that they really do NOT mean they are sorry at all- but since they’ve said the word ‘Sorry’ you’re pretty much left with nothing more to say.  Either that or you find yourself babysitting their angst.  If you feel this is happening, do not care take- do not accept an apology that feels like bullshit.  If it feels like bullshit, it probably is.  Trust your gut.

             2.)  An emotional abuser is the picture of a willing helper.  If you ask them to do something they will almost always agree.  That is IF they didn’t volunteer to do it first.  Then when you say “ok thanks” they make a bunch of heavy sighs or other non verbal signs that they really DON’T want to help.  When you tell them that it seem they don’t want to do whatever they said they would help with, they will turn it around and try to make it seem like OF COURSE they wanted to and how unreasonable you are.  This is a form of crazy- making- which is something that the are VERY good at.  So what do you do?  If they said YES, make them accountable for it.  Don’t buy into the sighs.  If they don’t want to do it, make them tell you up front or put on your headphones, run a bath and leave them to their theater.

             3.)  Crazy making- saying one thing and later assuring you they did not say it.  If you find yourself in a relationship where you figure you should start keeping a log of whats been said because you are starting to question your own sanity– then you are being emotionally manipulated.   They are experts in turning things around, rationalizing, justifying and explaining things away.  They can lie so smoothly that you can sit looking at black and they’ll call it white and argue with you so good that you begin to doubt your own senses.  Over a period of time, this is so unhealthy that it can literally alter your sense of reality.

             4.) Guilt.  Emotional abusers are excellent guilt mongers.  They can make you feel guilty for speaking up or not speaking up, for being emotional or not being emotional enough, for giving and caring, or for not giving or caring enough.  Anything is fair game and open to guilt with an emotional manipulator.  They rarely express their needs or desires openly– they get what they want through manipulation.  Guilt is not the only form of this but its a strong one.  Another one they use is sympathy.  They are great victims.  They need to feel supported, cared for and nurtured.  A good thing to say to them when they do this is something like ” I have every confidence in your ability to work this out on your own.”  

             5.)  They fight dirty ALL THE TIME.  They don’t deal with things directly.  They will talk around behind your back and eventually put others in the position of telling you what they would not say themselves.  They are passive aggressive, meaning they find subtle ways that they are not happy little campers.  They’ll tell you what you want to hear and then do a bunch of jerk stuff to undermine it.  Example: “Of course I want you to go back to school honey and you know I’ll support you.”  Then exam night you are sitting at the table and their friends show up, the kids are crying, the t.v. blasting and the dog needs walking- all the while they are sitting on their butt looking at you blankly.  Dare you call them out on it, you are likely to hear “well you can’t expect life just to stop because you have an exam can you honey?”  

             6.)  If you have a headache an emotional abuser will have a brain tumor.  No matter what your situation, the emotional manipulator has probably been there or is there now- but ten times worse.  It’s hard after a period of time to feel emotionally connected to them because they have a way of twisting conversations and putting the spotlight back on themselves.  If you call them on it, they will become deeply wounded and call you selfish- or claim that it is YOU who are always in the spotlight.  The thing is that even though you know this is not the case you are left with the impossible task of proving it.  Don’t bother.  TRUST your gut and walk away.

            7.) Emotional abusers somehow have the ability to impact the emotional climate of those around them.  When an emotional manipulator is sad or angry the room goes with it.  It brings a deep instinctual response to find someway to minimize it and the quickest route is to make them feel better.  Fixing whatever is broken with them.  Stick with this type of person for too long and you will become so co-dependent you will forget you even have needs- let alone that you have just as much right to have your needs met.

            8.) Emotional abusers have no sense of accountability.  They take no responsibility for themselves or their behavior.  It is always about what everyone else has “done to them.”  One of the easiest ways to spot someone who is most likely to become an emotional abuser is that they often attempt to establish intimacy through early sharing of personal information, such as, “hook you in and make you sorry for me.”  Believe me when I say that an emotional manipulator is about as vulnerable as a rabid pit bull, and there will always be a crisis to overcome.

             Some would say it is possible with time, a great deal of communication to work through emotional abuse.  Personally, I think life is short and precious– the only worthwhile thing to do when confronted with emotionally manipulative person is to KICK THEIR BUTT TO THE CURB!  A relationship with someone like that is similar to to re-exposing yourself over and over to a highly toxic and possibly fatal virus.  Each brush with it reduces your immunity and weakens your defenses.  It can take more time for someone for someone that has been in an emotionally abusive relationship to recover than it does for someone that leaves a physically abusive one.  At least you can name that punch that hit you.  Emotional abuse is subtle.  It is dangerous.   I can’t force someone to leave it, but if you do, walk away and never look back.  Make it a rule!

 

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All you need is support….pt 2

So in my previous post, I told you I was going to explain a little what emotional abuse is.  Here is what I know:

           Relationships can be complicated.  They are not all made the same and they all have their problems and issues.  Some issues are much more damaging than others; such as, emotional abuse.  When most people think of abuse in a relationship, they think of physical abuse, but emotional abuse can be just as damaging as the physical side.

           Emotional abuse does not leave visible, physical scars but rather, can leave emotional scars.  If it isn’t stopped early on, emotional abuse can damage your prospects of other relationships.  You lose vital components of a relationship.  Trust, intimacy, and love, all can be lost.  Once these components are gone, it is hard to have a solid, mutually trust worthy relationship.

           Emotional abuse destroys not only your relationship, but your inner self.  You no longer recognize who you are.  You forget who you were before the relationship.  You begin to see yourself as weak because you feel dominated, and as if you do not have a voice.  You become fearful and nervous, afraid to voice your feelings and thoughts.

            There are many signs of emotional abuse.  Some of the most common signs are:

*Depression

*Withdrawal from friends and family

*Develop low self esteem

*An unexplainable fear

*Feeling anxious

*Feelings of guilt

*Shameful

*Mood swings and changes

*Feeling nervous

*Lack of trust

*Blame yourself and others

*Becoming pessimistic

*Possible drug or alcohol abuse

*Become overly dependent on others

*Emotional instability

*Suicidal attempts.

           Now I’m not saying all of those signs apply to everyone, but one or all is possible.

           Some of the changes you may see in your partner or spouse that indicate emotional abuse are:

*No longer able to tell or discuss with your spouse what is bothering you

*He/she starts to criticize you, humiliate you, and damage your self esteem

*He/she ridicules you more, especially when you try to express yourself

*He/she isolates you from your friends and family

*He/she prevents you from going places, such as, work and to visit friends and family

*He/she can vary distancing themselves from you.  One minute they’re close to you, the next they’re distant.

*He/she can force sex on you

*He/she can start withholding sex from you

*You have feelings of being trapped in a relationship

*your spouse/partner may throw away or toss certain personal belongings.  They show jealousy to your belongings and special things.

*You may develop an uneasiness around your spouse.

           One example, is from a friend who I’ll call “sally”.  Sally was having a great day and it was beautiful outside so she decided to open the windows to let some air in.  Her husband came home, saw the windows were open and freaked out, saying that wasn’t safe, etc… He called her stupid, and a few other names and then said “if you do this again, You won’t like what happens.”  So sally was therefore afraid to ever open the windows in her house again for fear of what he would do.  And if she did, the second he would come home, she’d scramble and rush to close the windows.  

           Emotional abuse can sometimes lead to physical abuse.  If you start to notice changes in the relationship that make you uncomfortable, or seem controlling, it is important that you take steps right away.  The longer you wait, the harder it will be to either catch and change the behavior, or leave.

            Emotional abuse can be as detrimental to your relationship as physical abuse.  It can destroy your inner self until you don’t recognize yourself, and it makes you weak as a person.  It can create a precedence to where you choose the wrong partner for yourself time and time again.  You soon forget how to pick a partner who is good and good for you. Your self esteem becomes so low that you feel as if you do not deserve a good, healthy relationship or that you even deserve happiness.  You begin to feel unworthy, and that is exactly what your abuser wants to accomplish.

          Recognizing the signs of emotional abuse can help you realize if a relationship is headed in the wrong direction.  If you recognize the signs early on, you will be able to take the steps to get out of the relationship and get the help you need so that the next relationship is a healthier, more rewarding relationship.  Or if you decide to stay, recognizing the signs may be the push you need to do some personal and couples counseling to see if the relationship can heal.  

         I hope I explained what emotional abuse is enough to make people understand and next up, we’ll discuss what the warning signs are of a person before you get into the relationship or get serious with that person.

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All you need is support….. pt.1

            So yes, I’ve started a blog.  The reason I’m doing this?  To help people see me and my thoughts about certain things and also to help other people in their own struggles.  I’m also doing this because when I was going through certain struggles, there wasn’t much for me to read up on.   This blog will mostly be about a “shushed” topic:  emotional abuse.  This is not going to be just geared towards women, but men also.  Before I begin, I must say that I will be sharing a lot about my personal life and I should also mention that this is in no way, shape or form an attack on my ex husband or anyone else from my past.  My ex-husband is the father of my children and we have an amicable understanding now so I will show him respect and so should you.  That was my disclaimer.  

            So this past year has been an up, down and all around year for me.  I have grown personally and learned so much about myself and others.  Why am I doing this now?  Because I feel there isn’t much discussion about this topic out there and it’s been happening to a few close friends of mine.  (Don’t worry my friends, I’m not going to name names).  I feel 100% what they’re going through and I know what it’s like to feel alone, ashamed and scared.  Now, I will not advise them to to whether or not they should leave their marriage and/or relationship, but rather just make it known that they are not alone.  Knowledge = Power.  When I went through my experience, I learned who my TRUE friends and family were and it was hard not knowing where exactly I could turn.  You can turn here.

           When I made the decision to leave my marriage I received support and criticism.  I was called everything from “strong” “resilient” and “brave” to “selfish” “weak” and a “coward”.  Some to my face, some behind my back.  None of which ever effected me or my decisions because they were not there with me experiencing it and I can’t control how others will judge me.  

           In part 2 of this blog, I am going to define what emotional abuse is and hopefully, just hopefully, it will make one person realize that they are not alone.  Maybe it will spark something in them that they will seek professional help or if they’re too afraid to, I am here to listen.  Sometimes thats all a person needs to know to get them on the right track to healing.  Emotional abuse is usually shunned by society because there are no scars, bruises and bleeding to see.  But I know that the scars and bruises run deep.  It hurts your heart, soul, identity and mind.  I have been dealt this by many of my past relationships and I finally got the courage and strength to end the cycle.  So for anyone reading this that is going through this, or knows someone who is, just remember to stay strong, try to never lose sight of yourself and just know that there is a way to break the cycle.  Stay tuned for part 2.  Thanks for stopping by!

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