Emotional abuse can be difficult to spot, but learning to identify manipulative tactics can be your first step towards reclaiming your life. Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse leaves no visible scars, but it’s just as damaging.
Feeling uneasy in a relationship is often the first sign something is off. The abuser’s words and actions often contradict, making you question your own sense of reality. The more you care for the emotional abuser, the harder it becomes to distinguish fact from manipulation.
Common Tactics Of An Emotional Manipulator
At first, an emotional manipulator may “love bomb” you. After just a meeting or two, he/she will convince you that you are fated to be together and can’t live without each other. Be wary of anyone moving at an Indy 500 speed while getting to know you.
Once the manipulator has you, one of his purposes is to lower your self-esteem to make you doubt yourself and become more emotionally pliable. Once he has achieved that goal, you are more likely to believe him (“I did no such thing!”) than your perceptions and feelings.
Manipulators are experts at making you feel guilty while undermining your own awareness (“No, he/she couldn’t have meant it that way.”), being evasive, and getting you to apologize for their passive-aggressive behavior. In the movies, they call this gaslighting. It’s a reality built on lights and shadows.
If you do confront an emotional manipulator, the situation will be twisted into a pretzel. You will be accused of lying, nagging, being demanding. Whatever the manipulator did, you are the one who will feel the shame and guilt. An expert manipulator can even add a few soothing words, such as, “You know I love you and that it hurts me to see you act like this.” Such concern! It’s as if reality were shifting further and further away. And that is exactly what the manipulator wants.
What Drives Emotional Manipulators?
Most people act to fulfill their needs, and emotional manipulators are no different. Their primary goal is to gain power and control. They do so by manipulating you into doubt and submission. If you confront them, they’ll feign shock, blaming you for the issues and avoiding responsibility.
Manipulative Tactics to Look Out For
Initially, an emotional manipulator may shower you with affection, convincing you that you’re destined to be together. However, this “love bombing” is merely a tactic to lower your defenses.
The manipulator aims to erode your self-esteem, making you more emotionally susceptible. They specialize in guilt-tripping and gaslighting, creating a false reality where you doubt your own perceptions.
Lies as a Control Mechanism
A manipulator often lies, even when unnecessary, just to keep control. They relish in the false sense of power it gives them. Lying can range from vague statements to omitting crucial details.
Denial and Evasion
Confronting an emotional manipulator often leads to more manipulation. They’ll deny wrongdoing, distort facts, and make you feel guilty, all while professing their love to sow more confusion.
A manipulator is an expert at manipulating reality. For example, if you mention that he/she forgot to bring home groceries, the manipulator will respond that he/she most certainly did not forget. He/she did remember but didn’t want to upset you by picking up the wrong item. He/she was only thinking of you. He/she will act hurt when you fail to appreciate his/her thoughtfulness. This will continue until you totally doubt yourself and end up apologizing to him. Wondering what is real and what is not is becoming an unfortunate habit.
Manipulators Playing Victims
When sensing a loss of control, emotional manipulators may guilt-trip you with statements like, “You really don’t love me,” to regain their grip on you.
Why Manipulators Act the Way They Do
Many manipulators are burdened by self-doubt. Manipulating others helps them avoid facing their insecurities. Unfortunately, this often leads to abusive behavior, leaving you feeling guilty for issues you didn’t create.
Spotting emotional abuse isn’t always straightforward. If you’re struggling, consider consulting a counselor to help you identify abusive behavior and plan your next steps. It’s important to remember that being a victim is not your fault; the guilt and shame lie with the abuser.
The legal process can get difficult, which is why we always recommend that you seek the assistance of counsel; or at least have a consultation. Schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today to review the issues of your case, the legal options you may have, and certain rights that pertain to your unique situation.
Have more questions? Let us know by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org and we will do our best to develop content to provide you with direction and insight!
For more information:
Check out and subscribe to our YouTube Channel
Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook
Visit our website
Shop our Legal Templates
No Attorney-Client Relationship or Legal Advice: Communication of information by, in, to or through this Website and your receipt or use of it: (1) is not provided in the course of and does not create or constitute an attorney-client relationship; (2) is not intended as a solicitation; (3) is not intended to convey or constitute legal advice; and (4) is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. You should not act upon any such information without first seeking qualified professional counsel on you specific matter. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon Web site communications or advertisements. Feel free to contact us if you need legal assistance.