Emotional blackmail is something that happens between a manipulative or abusive person and a victim. It is often described as threats and punishments that are meant to control another person’s behavior, while not escalating to physical violence.
This form of blackmail is as serious as physical abuse as it leaves its victim feeling lesser of themself, suffering from low self-esteem, in a haze of fear, obligation, guilt, and so many other emotional and psychological imbalance.
Below are some signs you are being emotionally blackmailed:
Threats to damage something the victim hold dear
When being emotionally blackmailed, the abuser threatens to hurt anything the victim holds dear. This leaves the victim in a state of constant fear. This could be a physical object, or something more abstract like a close relationship or their reputation at work or school. The victim is meant to feel as if they have to comply with the blackmailer in order to avoid having something that they care about tampered with or destroyed. Hence, when they feel this way, they are forced to always comply. According to licensed mental health counselor Christine Hammond:
“In order for a blackmailer to be successful, they must know what the target fears. This fear is often deep-rooted such as fear of abandonment, loneliness, humiliation, and failure.”
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A person being emotionally blackmailed is always being blamed for anything that goes wrong. Once this happens, the person is made to believe they are not good enough, so they accept any kind of allegations levelled against them. Seeing themselves as the problem in the relationship, they accept and do anything the abuser requests of them, the abuser uses the guilt to constantly manipulate the victim. This leaves the victim with low self-esteem issues.
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Emotion Insignificance Treatment
An abuser emotionally blackmailing another person will continually ignore the emotions of the victim. The abuser makes the emotions of the victim unimportant, therefore, when they feel hurt or sad, rather than talk about it, they hold in their feeling and cry when no one is there. This is enough to drive the victim to depression. If you discover speaking about your feelings or emotions to your close friend or partner leads to issues, then it might be time to re-evaluate such a relationship.
It is imperative to leave any relationship where you feel you are being emotionally abused. The first step to take is to love yourself. Self-love is the foundation for all of your true happiness in your life, which is found deep within yourself underneath all the wounded feelings of pain and insecurity. When you love yourself, you will be able to walk away from any relationship that differs from how you want to be treated.