It’s about control and exploitation
Psychological manipulation is a common phenomenon, and it is often difficult to detect. It can have a devastating effect on the victim and can lead to anxiety and depression. Healthy relationships are not possible in the presence of psychological manipulation.
Manipulators work through emotionally and mentally exploiting their victims. They have as their motive the need to control their victims. They plan is to take as their own, the benefits of the person that falls under their control. The manipulator means to control the victim’s thoughts and deeds through underhanded tactics.
The victims of manipulation often lose confidence in their abilities, as the manipulator plays on their insecurities through deception and control.
Preying on weaknesses
Manipulative people know how to recognize the weakness in others, and they will prey on these. They persuade their victims to give up their benefits and privileges, taking them for themselves.
Once in control, manipulators will keep on taking advantage of you. Only you can stop it. Emotional manipulation can happen between any two people. This includes parents and their children, employees and their bosses, and married couples.
If you are a victim of manipulation, you may feel pressured to do things that you would otherwise not have done. You may fear the consequences of behaving differently.
Recognize the signs
Manipulation is not easy to recognize. If you know what signs to look for, you’ll find it easier to fend off the actions of the manipulator and protect yourself from them.
- Manipulators deny what they have said – Exaggeration, outright lies, and downplaying the truth is normal behaviour for the manipulator. They will move the goal posts. They will deny previously agreed conditions, and they will undermine you by downplaying your concerns.
- They will make you feel bad about expressing your feelings. The manipulator will ensure that you regret any complaints or disagreements. You can never develop a successful relationship with a manipulator. Healthy relationships are built upon shared feelings, concerns and opinions, time spent together and respect for one another.
- Manipulators make their victims feel guilty about everyday things. They may agree to something and will act the victim when you do. In this way, they ensure that you do their bidding.
- They demonstrate passive-aggressive behaviour. They give you the silent treatment or address you indirectly, undermining your self-confidence.
- They make you feel that your problems are insignificant while exaggerating their own. By diminishing your concerns, they make you feel as though your problems are insignificant.
- They use aggressive behaviour and body language to intimidate you. They may speak very loudly, invade your personal space or use exaggerated hand and arm movements. This is all intended to force you to acquiesce to their demands.
Healthy relationships are respectful
Relationships are built on the ability to freely express yourself, voice your opinions and express your emotions. Every relationship should be about “give and take” and about supporting one another when such support is needed.
People in a healthy relationship respect one another and understand boundaries. Parties to the relationships may not always agree. One or the other may acquiesce from time to time and do what the other requires. This is, however, done with respect and not because they feel challenged or manipulated into the position.
How to extricate yourself from the situation
Over time the victims of psychological manipulation begin to feel helpless and weak. Their self-esteem suffers and they feel powerless. On the other hand, the manipulator feels all-powerful with the right to push their victims around.
The feelings of powerlessness and the loss of self-esteem can lead to mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. Because of this, it is crucial that extricate yourself from this unhealthy environment.
Below are some of the actions that you can take to improve the situation.
Know your rights
Learn to recognize when your human rights are violated. Defend yourself against disrespect or violation of your rights. You have the right to express your opinion without being interrupted or shouted down. No-one has the right to bully you, shout at you or strike you. If the other is shouting you down, suggest that you discuss the matter later in calmer circumstances. You have a right to your own happy life. Find the strength to take it back, and deny the manipulator that power.
You are not to blame
Don’t allow the other to push the guilt onto you, and don’t blame yourself either. You may feel inadequate. This is understandable given the fact that the manipulator is doing everything in their power to make you feel that way.
Ask your manipulator questions designed to make them see the situation from your angle. Ask them whether they think that the situation is fair and reasonable. Enquire about your right to refuse. Ask what’s in it for you. Don’t allow the manipulator to demand an immediate response from you. Tell them that you need time to think about it, and come back later with a response. It is normal for manipulators to try and force an immediate answer from you. This is just another way of controlling you.
Learn to say no
Say no as diplomatically but as firmly as you can. Don’t raise your voice. Just quietly say no. You may find it liberating. Bullies the world over are usually also cowards. They seek to manipulate those who they consider weak. As soon as you stand up for yourself, chances are the bully will back down.
Stay away from the bully
You must take a hard look at your relationship and ask yourself some pointed questions. Are you being treated with respect? Are the demands made upon you reasonable? Is the relationship making you feel bad? Are you in a one-way relationship?
Look after yourself. If you feel endangered in any way, seek help. You have to stand up for yourself when it comes to bullies, but never put yourself in danger. Seek support. It is important to look after your mental health too, so as much as possible stay out of the way of the psychological manipulator.
Disclaimer : This article provides basic information only and is not a substitute for a professional or legal advice. It is prudent to obtain legal advice from a family lawyer.