Posts Categorized: Recognizing Abusive Behavior

10 Strategies Emotional Manipulators Use to Get Their Way

Do you love an emotionally manipulative person? Someone who has a history of broken relationships, anger problems, and self-centered habits? Emotionally Manipulative people are geniuses at getting you to look past their faults so they can get their own way. If you have dealt with this kind of personality, you know how crazy-making and frustrating life can be.

Being in a relationship with an emotional manipulator can seem great at first. They use Attraction Strategies (listed below) in order to look appealing and get you hooked. Once you are hooked (paying for him, sleeping with him, feeling sorry for him, or making him look good), he/she shifts to Control Strategies (listed below) where you become the commodity to be exploited, used and controlled.

Attraction Strategies

  1. Love bombs. If you fell for an emotional manipulator, you probably have said to yourself, “Well, he wasn’t that way in the beginning.” And you’re right. In the beginning, he probably inundated you with compliments, gifts, promises, desire and affection. He called, texted, stopped by all the time and never wanted you to leave his side. He bombed you with so much attention, the smoke hid his true character.
  2. Show Off. Like a peacock in mating season, he worked very hard in getting you to like him in the beginning of your relationship. He showed you only the positive traits, hiding anything that would make him seem less appealing. People with negative traits to hide put on a show so you will only see what they want you to see.
  3. Over Talking. In the beginning you may not be able to get a word in edgewise, as he tells you about his life, his accomplishments, and other things that make you feel amazed, sympathetic, admiration and even attraction. Maybe you even wonder why he, such an important person is paying attention to little-ole-you.
  4. Sob Story. Emotional Manipulators look for empathic people to listen, care, and even feel sorry for them. An emotional manipulator may legitimately have a tragic background, however, he uses his tragedy to manipulate your good nature. If he can get you to see him as the victim, then you will have a more difficult time holding him accountable for his bad behavior.

Control Strategies

  1. Silence treatment. Emotional Manipulators use silence to punish, control, and slowly breakdown your will. Silence “seems” benign in nature, but it is actually one of the cruelest forms of psychological manipulation. Being with someone who actively ignores you can be excruciating. You may start to internalize this feeling to the point of feeling invisible.
  2. Public humiliation. An emotionally manipulative person does not hesitate in making you look bad in front of others so he can look good. If embarrassing you in public means that he’ll impress someone, he will do it. If cutting someone down makes him one-up, that is what he will do.
  3. Threat of harm. Emotional Manipulators may use all kinds of threats against you in order to control and intimidate you into doing what he wants. Many things can be used to threaten you, like withholding finances, turning your kids against you, or tarnishing your reputation with your family or friends. He may even become physically threatening or abusive.
  4. Threat of self-harm. Sometimes, the emotional manipulator will even threaten to harm himself in order to get you to back down, stay put or stop wanting things to change.
  5. Badgering. Have you heard the saying, “death by a thousand paper cuts?” An Emotional Manipulator will badger, harass, and pester his partner relentlessly until she is worn down enough to give in. You may especially experience this tactic as a response to setting a boundary with him. You may feel like you are up against a high pressure salesmen who won’t take “no” for an answer.
  6. Limitation of your Power: An Emotional Manipulator will try to control you by limiting your access to resources, friends, and family. You may feel shut out of the finances, forbidden to seek counseling, or cut off from your friends and family. The Emotional Manipulator is threatened by your power, and will try  to minimize it as much as possible to keep you in his control.

 

Dealing with emotionally manipulative personalities can be exhausting. You may start to feel hopeless, and maybe even worthless. It takes courage to seek professional help when feeling overwhelmed, but each small step toward health and healing is a step in the right direction. Seeking professional help can help you create a plan to deal this this manipulative behavior and put you on the path toward recovery.

In the following weeks, I will take each strategy and offer solutions to help you deal with the Emotional Manipulator in your life. My goal is to help you reclaim the power in your life so you can live happily and freely again.

Need Help Now? You can order my book to help solving your relationships today.

A Radio Interview with Kate Daniels

Recovery, healing and relationships. I had the privilege of speaking with Kate Daniels of Hubbard Radio on her show dedicated to Recovery. If you download it, you can treat it like a podcast and listen while you’re on the go.

Exploitive and destructive relationships take a toll on their victims, and we discuss here how to recover and rebuild self esteem. Enjoy!

Kavanaugh and Ford: and the Struggle to Discern What’s True

If you opened this, then you are probably interested in how this drama is going to play out over the next few weeks. I realize this could be construed as a political post, and I’d like to assert, that it’s not. I have a very specific response to Thursday’s hearings, and it’s not a political one, but an observation that will help you in your relationships.

My response to Thursday’s hearings is an observation of two people- two people I will likely never meet, or know or having any opinion of beyond how they presented themselves on Thursday during the hearings. We had a very brief glimpse into the life of both Christine Blasey- Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, and saw how they conduct themselves under pressure and questioning. But each came to the hearings with very different demeanors. That is what was of interest to me.

Since I meet with people for a living, listen to their stories and try to help them move forward, I  practice the art of listening, watching, and understanding. For hours at a time, every day, for years.

So, during Ford and Kavanaugh’s testimonies, I watched, listened and tried to understand what they were truly saying. I took in not only the words, but also the tone, the body language, and the facial expressions. Nonverbal communication tells you just as much, if not more than the spoken word.

Here’s my run down.

One, Christine Blasey-Ford came with composure, a vulnerability, a willingness to follow procedure, and quiet strength. Her voice was timid at first, but seemed to grow in confidence as she went on. Attentive, confident, and patient. She stayed on point, and submitted to the process.

The other, Brett Kavanaugh came with anger, volume, twisted facial muscles, and disrespect for the time and structure of the process. Interruptions, impatience, and blame. Angry, rude, and combative. He was unwilling to submit fully to the process, but attempted to control it with retorts, sarcasm, tears, and shouting.

I was convinced MORE of Kavanaugh’s guilt AFTER he testified. His demeanor sent up too many red character flags.

How we respond to an accusation tells a lot about our own character. We show our true selves when faced with our failures, our shortcomings, our weaknesses and yes, even our guilt. I don’t have any idea what truly happened 35 years ago in their lives, I only know what these two witnesses conveyed for me. We don’t often have video screens playing of people’s lives to corroborate the stories they tell about themselves. We often have to make judgments and decisions about who we trust, who we work with, and who we marry without the luxury of character witnesses, surveillance cameras and lie detectors.

So we rely on what people say, how they act, and how congruent those two things are. Why did Kavanaugh send up red flags for me? Because what he was saying (I’m innocent) and how he was acting (I’m combative.) Those two things were incongruent for me. They didn’t jive. I chalk the incongruence up to one thing: PRAT

Personal Responsibility Avoidance Tactics

Personal Responsibility Avoidance Tactics often show up in marriages and families and work places. They are not isolated to Republicans or men or Right Wing Evangelists or Left Wing Liberals or long time tv stars. They are tactics used everywhere by all kinds of people who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. They are defense mechanisms against shame. If you’ve ever been in an argument with someone who uses PRAT (Personal Responsibility Avoidance Tactics) it’s enough to make you bonkers. PRATs are used to convince you that “there’s nothing to see here,” and “you’re the one with the problem, not me,” and “if you keep pressing me, I’ll make it worse for you.”

Common Tactics to get out of Responsibility

  • claim to be the victim,
  • evoke sympathy by crying,
  • change the subject,
  • shout louder,
  • interrupt,
  • list all the good things you’ve done,
  • counter attack with new complaint,
  • make stuff up,
  • give the silent treatment,
  • misrepresent what others are saying.

Trying to have a conversation or worse, disagreement with someone who avoids personal responsibility is exhausting and crazy making.

You and I have nominal power over how these hearings play out. But we do have power over how we respond, and what behavior we tolerate in our own lives. No matter what this Senate Judiciary Committee decides, the real questions are with all of us: do we use these tactics to avoid personal responsibility? And do we tolerate the behavior of those who do?

Want more information? I’ve written a book just for you! Check it out here to have more clarity and confidence in your relationships. You can get the clarity you need to have the strong relationships you want.

Click here for more information on how to have healthy relationships.

 

 

Why Do I Feel this Way? Addressing Anxiety Part II

Heart thumping, cold sweat, shallow breathing and mind racing. These are the signs of the fight or flight mechanism at its peak. When the brain’s hippo campus recognizes a stimulus as threatening, it sends messages to the body that prepare it to fight, to take flight, or to freeze.
But what if that stimulus produces a low grade of fight, flight, or freeze nearly all the time? What if the brain gets dysregulated and sends signals to the brain to react even when the stimulus is not dangerous?

You end up feeling terrible all of the time.

Anxiety occurs in people for a variety or reasons, including past or present traumatic events, genetic predisposition, or a life of chronic stress. Whatever the cause, the symptoms can be bothersome at best, and debilitating at worst.

An estimated 19% of Americans suffered from an anxiety disorder in the past year. That’s almost 1 in 5 people. Whether you have suffered with anxiety in the past, are being treated for it now, or love someone debilitated by it, chances are you have been affected by the far-reaching tentacles of anxiety.
Last week, we talked about the symptoms and signs of anxiety. Check it out if you missed it by clicking HERE.

Why do I feel this way?

Finding the WHY is not absolutely necessary to solve the problem of anxiety, but it does help quite a bit. It is accepted by psychologcial professionals that anxiety can be caused by a combination of different factors like genetics, faulty cognitions, chemical imbalance, environment factors, and life events. Wanna dig in a little more? Here are some common factors that contribute to the anxiety you may be feeling.

  • Past little t traumas. I refer to Little t traumas as those less-than-nurturing things that happened consistently over time. Like the constant criticism of a parent, frequent family moves, or trying hard but being benched each year on the soccer team. These are relatively small traumas to the psyche but when occurring with consistency and frequency, can make for an anxious life.
  • Past Big T Traumas- Big T traumas are events most people would consider tragic, de-stabilizing and distressing. Big T traumas are  These are things like car wrecks, dangerous predicaments, violent acts, witnessing traumatic events,
  • Toxic Relationships– When living or working in a toxic, dysfunctional, or demanding relationship or environment, anxiety can start to take hold. The feeling of being trapped in a dysfunctional relationship can make a person feel inadequate, overly responsible, hyper vigilant, and worried about rejection. Often people will feel powerless to change their relationship situation because they fear the cost would be too great (stress to the kids, financial stress, feelings of failure,) Many people will stay in toxic environments and relationships hoping it will get better, however, their emotional and physical health suffers.
  • Feelings of Extreme Powerlessness- Anxiety is always rooted in a sense of helplessness. It’s as if our unconscious believes that we truly have no power, that we are damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Trapped. Bound. Gagged. We believe things like, “I can’t do anything about it,” “I have no choice,” and “It’s useless.” Our prefrontal cortex, responsible for logic and reasoning, knows this powerless thinking is not completely accurate, but the hippocampus is so busy over-reacting, it overrides logic and stays in a fight/flight spin. The times we feel most powerless, are the times we feel most anxious.
  • Chronic Unresolved Stress- relationships, environments, and stressful situations have a “piling on” affect that over time, drain your resources, energy and motivation. The Hope-Disappointment cycle bankrupts what little resources you have left. Adrenal fatigue, PTSD, depression, weight gain, loss of motivation are all signs of working/living/dealing with chronic stress. Demanding work environments, infertility, toxic relationships, living with someone with untreated mental illness, dealing with chronically angry people, unemployment, poverty, bullying are all examples of environments that cause chronic stress.
  • Survival Fatigue- Since the Hippocampus is getting all sorts of danger signals… ALL THE TIME… even when there’s no danger, you start to feel like a victim in perpetual survival mode. You say things to yourself like, “Just get through it,” and “just keep going.” Fight/Flight/Freeze is a great mechanism to save your life, but not so good for long periods of time. During survival mode, you may go through phases of hyperarousal and numbness, back to hyperarousal again. Maintaining survival mode can cause anxiety over time.

Depressed yet? DON’T BE! Anxiety is a very treatable condition, and with the right attitude and the right help, you can start gaining control over your anxiety symptoms.

I don’t want to leave you hanging, really I don’t, but I’ve got to break this blog into three parts, so I can do things like eat a real meal, go to bed before midnight, and you know, have a life and stuff. Anxiety is a huge topic with a myriad of treatment techniques, so I will give you the best ones next week. In the mean time, check out these links – this one on communication and this one on healing from a toxic relationship .

Emotional Abuse: 16 Signs that it’s Happening to You

Are you living in an emotionally toxic relationship? Women often know there is something wrong in their relationship because of the fighting and the terrible things that are said, but they want to believe the best about their partners. They don’t want to believe that their partner is actually emotionally abusive. How can they know for sure? Emotional Abuse seems so ambiguous, that many victims feel silly even bringing it up. Since emotional abuse doesn’t leave physical wounds or scars, it is sometimes ignored. But did you know that emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse?

37597988 - young couple not talking after fight in living room

Many couples will have infrequent arguments where both say things they regret. Many couples get into dysfunctional habits and cycles that cause problems in the long run. However, emotional abuse is different. Emotional abuse is pervasive, repeated and a perpetual relational style of keeping a one-up/ one-down status in the relationship. The following are signs of Emotional Abuse.

16 Signs of Emotional Abuse

  1. Blame: They tend to blame you for their own mistakes. Even if you had nothing to do with it or weren’t even around, somehow it becomes your fault.
  2. Fights Are Huge: Every couple has arguments, and may even say hurtful things they regret later. However, emotionally abusive partners escalate arguments into cutting, explosive fights where he emerges from the wreckage without a care.
  3. Name Calling: Cruel put downs like “Stupid Ass, Crazy Bitch, Jesus Freak” and others I won’t even write, are used to make you feel stupid, crazy, and ridiculous. You may be called these names in front of others, your kids or when you are all alone.
  4. Yelling, Cussing, Vulgarity: Using volume, profanity and vulgar slurs takes what could be a normal activity or conflict, and makes it scary, threatening and mean-spirited.
  5. Excessive Teasing: Every relationship can endure, and may even be enhanced by some good natured teasing, especially when both can laugh at themselves easily. However, teasing becomes emotionally abusive when it crosses a line from good natured to cruel and excessive. Teasing can be used to control, threaten and over-power.
  6. Threatening: Feedback, suggestions, and constructive criticism are met quickly with ultimatums, threats and terrorizing antics. Threats are usually carefully crafted weapons aimed right where they will hurt you most.
  7. Badgering: once you’ve expressed your boundaries, your partner aggressively pesters you in order to get you to change your mind. This tactic is used to wear you down until you give in.
  8. Punishing Silence: a partner who habitually withdraws from the relationship in order to prove a point or get back at you is emotionally abusive.
  9. Constant Criticism or Judgment: Emotionally abusive people use criticism and judgment to keep you in “your place” or keep you feeling bad about yourself so you won’t assert your need for better treatment.
  10. Disregard: Emotionally Abusive people will disregard your opinions, needs, or ideas. You may feel like you are not seen as a whole and equal person in the relationship because your partner minimizes you.
  11. Gas-Lighting: Accuse you of being crazy or too sensitive. When you complain about this treatment, you are disregarded. You are lead to believe that you are the problem, not the emotional abuse.
  12. Control of Finances: It’s normal for partners to have different roles in the relationship, like for one to handle the finances and the other to handle house maintenance. But when finances are controlled or kept from the other partner, the imbalance of power is abusive and wrong.
  13. Contempt: Contemptuous body language, facial expression, implying disgust toward you. This may seem very covert, and maybe even small. However, its impact damages self esteem, feelings of safety, and trust.
  14. Ignoring Boundaries: Repeated disregard for your boundaries, limits, space or requests. We only truly know how someone will respect us once we say no. If your partner repeatedly dismisses your expressed needs or requests, this is a violation of your person.
  15. The Pot Calling the Kettle Black: This sneaky tactic is when your partner accuses you of the thing he/she is really guilty of. For example, he/she will give examples of you being emotionally abusive in attempt at convincing you that you are the problem. Psychologists call this projection.
  16. Excessive Anger: Anger may be loud and overt, or silent and seething. Their anger is used to intimidate and control. You may feel yourself avoiding difficult conversations, walking on eggshells, and trying not to upset your partner.

24322548 - lonely girl in the city in danger

If you are finding yourself sadly nodding your head as you read this list, you are not alone. You may be coming to the realization that your relationship is not only unhappy, but down right abusive. Emotional abuse is important to identify and stop. Emotional abuse may seem easier to overlook, than to confront. You probably intuitively know that the abuse may get worse after confronting it. This seems risky and scary. But the abuse doesn’t get better or go away over time. Without intervention, emotional abuse only gets more severe and more frequent. Taking steps to be safe can be a long process, but worth it for you, your children and the people around you. For more information on setting boundaries and staying safe, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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