Do you feel like you’re constantly being manipulated and controlled by someone close to you? Are you constantly made to feel guilty, afraid, or obligated to do things you wouldn’t normally do? If so, you may be a victim of emotional blackmail, a tactic commonly used by narcissists to get what they want. In this article, we’ll explore the tactics narcissists use to emotionally blackmail their victims and how to protect yourself from these manipulative behaviors.
What is emotional blackmail?
Emotional blackmail is a form of manipulation in which a person uses fear, guilt, or obligation to control someone else’s behavior. It is often used by narcissists as a way to get what they want, whether it is attention, resources, or power. Narcissists are skilled at manipulating people’s emotions, and they often use emotional blackmail to get what they want.
Narcissists use emotional blackmail to control their victims by making them feel guilty, afraid, or obligated to do what the narcissist wants. They may use threats, intimidation, or emotional appeals to manipulate their victims into doing things they wouldn’t normally do. For example, a narcissist may threaten to hurt themselves or someone else if their victim does not comply with their demands. They may also use emotional appeals, such as reminding their victim of the sacrifices they have made for the narcissist, or playing on their victim’s sense of loyalty or responsibility.
The 6 Stages of Emotional Blackmail
The concept of “emotional blackmail” is often associated with the work of Dr. Susan Forward, a psychologist and author. In her book “Emotional Blackmail: When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You,” she describes six stages that can occur in the dynamic of emotional blackmail. These stages provide insight into how emotional blackmail unfolds. The six stages are:
- Demand: The person engaging in emotional blackmail makes a demand or request, often accompanied by an implicit or explicit threat.
- Resistance: The target of emotional blackmail resists or expresses reluctance to comply with the demand due to personal boundaries, values, or preferences.
- Pressure: The person engaging in emotional blackmail uses various tactics to exert pressure, such as guilt, anger, manipulation, or withdrawal of affection, in order to make the target comply.
- Compliance: The target may eventually give in and comply with the demand in order to avoid the negative consequences or maintain the relationship.
- Repetition: The cycle of demand, resistance, pressure, and compliance may continue, with the emotional blackmailer repeating the pattern to control and manipulate the target.
- Loss of self: Over time, the target may experience a loss of self-worth, autonomy, and personal boundaries, as their choices and actions become increasingly driven by the emotional blackmailer’s demands and manipulation.
Emotional Blackmail Tactics
There are several tactics narcissists use to emotionally blackmail their victims. Some of the most common ones include:
Threats and intimidation
Narcissists may use threats or intimidation to control their victims. They may threaten to hurt themselves or someone else if their victim does not comply with their demands. They may also use physical intimidation, such as standing too close or raising their voice, to manipulate their victim’s behavior.
Narcissists often use guilt-tripping to control their victims. They may remind their victim of the sacrifices they have made for the narcissist, or play on their victim’s sense of loyalty or responsibility. They may also use reverse psychology, making their victim feel guilty for not complying with their demands.
Love bombing is a tactic in which a narcissist showers their victim with affection, attention, and flattery in order to manipulate them. They may use this tactic to make their victim feel special and wanted, and to get their victim to do things for them.
Gaslighting is a tactic in which a narcissist manipulates their victim into doubting their own perceptions, memories, or judgment. They may deny certain events or behaviors, or manipulate their victim’s reality in order to control their victim’s behavior.
The silent treatment
The silent treatment is a tactic in which a narcissist ignores their victim in order to punish them or control their behavior. They may use this tactic to manipulate their victim into doing what they want, or to punish their victim for not complying with their demands.
Withholding affection or attention
Narcissists may use withholding affection or attention as a way to punish their victim or control their behavior. They may give their victim the silent treatment, or refuse to show affection or give attention until their victim does what they want.
How to protect yourself from emotional blackmail
Emotional blackmail can be difficult to recognize and escape from, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. Here are some tips for dealing with emotional blackmail:
- Recognize the signs: It’s important to be aware of the tactics that narcissists use to emotionally blackmail their victims. This will help you to identify when you are being manipulated and take steps to protect yourself.
- Set boundaries: It’s important to establish clear boundaries and communicate them to the narcissist. This will help to prevent them from manipulating or exploiting you.
- Don’t give in: Giving in to the demands of a narcissist only reinforces their behavior and encourages them to continue using emotional blackmail. It’s important to stand your ground and refuse to be manipulated.
- Seek support: It can be helpful to talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist about your experiences with emotional blackmail. This can help you to process your feelings and develop a plan for dealing with the narcissist.
- Seek professional help: If you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, it’s important to seek help from a qualified professional, such as a therapist or domestic violence advocate. They can provide you with support and guidance on how to safely leave the relationship.
- Practice self-care: It’s important to take care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, when dealing with emotional blackmail. This may include taking breaks from the narcissist, setting aside time for self-care activities, and seeking support from trusted friends and family members.
- Seek legal protection: If you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, it may be necessary to seek legal protection, such as a restraining order. A qualified legal professional can help you to understand your options and take steps to protect yourself.
Emotional blackmail is a common tactic used by narcissists to manipulate and control their victims. It can be difficult to recognize and escape from, but there are steps you can take to protect yourself. By recognizing the signs of emotional blackmail, setting boundaries, seeking support, and practicing self-care, you can empower yourself to stand up to the narcissist and resist their manipulative behaviors.
If you are in an abusive relationship with a narcissist, seek help from a qualified professional, such as a therapist or domestic violence advocate. They can provide you with the support and guidance you need to safely leave the relationship and protect yourself from further harm.